Stan Van Gundy Tired of Hoopla Over LeBron, Wade, Bosh
Van Gundy, who once coached in Miami and remains a close friend of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, also predicted that James would stay in Cleveland, scoffing at the speculation that he would join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in South Florida.
Wade and Bosh announced earlier in the day that they both have agreed to sign with the Heat in Miami. James will make his announcement Thursday with an hour-long television special.
"If he went anywhere but Cleveland, I'd be shocked,'' Van Gundy said before the Orlando Summer League action began Wednesday. "But I'd be doubly shocked if he went to Miami.''
Van Gundy did speak in admiration for the team that the Heat are now putting together after convincing Bosh to leave Toronto and join Wade in Miami.
"That's a team that was, the last two years, a No. 5 seed. And now they've added one of the best forwards in basketball. As far as a one-two punch, that compares pretty favorably to Kobe [Bryant] and Pau Gasol,'' he said. "It's right there. They are instant contenders. There isn't any doubt. They are contenders to win an NBA championship. They (the Heat) still have a lot of money to put guys around them. They'll get good enough pieces that they're instant contenders.''
The Magic reached the NBA Finals from the East two years ago, but they lost to the Celtics this past season.
It didn't take much prompting of Van Gundy, who is proud of his old-school basketball values, to see his opinion of James' self promotion, which has reached an all-time high.
"It takes 15 seconds to say I've decided to stay in Cleveland, but we've got another 59 minutes and 45 seconds to do, what? Promote LeBron James? As if we don't do that enough?'' he said. "It's gotten ridiculous. It's almost like a parody of itself, this whole situation now.''
Van Gundy compared the self-promoting drama of James, Wade and Bosh, to how Kobe Bryant and the Lakers quietly handled his contract extension earlier this summer. It was even quieter than how Oklahoma City handled the extension of Kevin Durant.
"It's a sign of the times, unfortunately,'' he said. "It's amazing that a guy as good as Kobe simply extended his contract without fanfare or anything else. Durant is more in the Kobe mode. You don't hear them talking about 'their brand.' They are simply great basketball players who want to win games. Not that the other guys aren't great players, and don't want to win, but there's also more to it. It's not what I like. I'm sure it will be a widely watched show tomorrow, but is simply won't have me in the audience.''
Van Gundy, like many NBA people, grew weary of the drama over free agency, even before the July 1 starting date arrived.
He said none of these free-agent announcements have surprised him. He expected Bosh to follow Wade to Miami, despite all the drama as both players joined James in a well-chronicled tour through the teams with salary cap room. He also made sure to express his admiration of the basketball talents the free agents have, and how they have changed the balance of power in the East. Yet he couldn't help but poke a little fun at how they did it.
"All these guys would love to be The Man, but it's not that easy as a lot of them have found,'' he said. "He (Bosh) has been following him (Wade) around for two weeks like his lap dog.''