Why did Jeff Van Gundy really get fired?
Jeff Van Gundy’s unexpected inclusion in ESPN’s recent round of layoffs has prompted speculation regarding the reasons behind the decision.
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, a well-known media personality, believes that external pressure may have played a role.
In his podcast, “Mad Dog’s Daily Bite,” Russo expressed disbelief that ESPN would independently choose to fire Van Gundy.
If financial concerns were the main factor, Russo argues that ESPN would have also dismissed fellow analyst Mark Jackson and replaced them both with a more affordable option.
Russo instead posits that the NBA, led by commissioner Adam Silver, may have influenced ESPN’s decision to remove Van Gundy.
“That leads me to the conclusion that someone in the league office must’ve told ESPN, ‘I want Van Gundy out,’” Russo said. “We all know he’s biting. We all know he gets on the officials. We all know he doesn’t hold back with his NBA opinions. He tells you what he thinks, which is what a great broadcaster is supposed to do anyways.”
Russo suggests that someone with the league office may have expressed a desire to remove Van Gundy due to his outspoken nature and tendency to criticize officials and express strong opinions about the NBA.
“So, if you’re asking me, little talk show host, who may not know a thing, this is just my opinion, Silver is the one who fired Van Gundy,” Russo added. “Silver told ESPN, ‘I want him out. You want to do the games in the next contract? I don’t want Van Gundy doing the games. I don’t want him knocking the league. I want a pom-pom guy in there.’”
Russo speculates that this decision could be related to the ongoing negotiations for the NBA’s media rights contracts, set to expire after the 2024-25 season.
More to this than meets the eye when it comes to Jeff Van Gundy! Download the latest "Mad Dog's Daily Bite" anywhere you get your podcasts! @SIRIUSXM
— Chris Mad Dog Russo (@MadDogUnleashed) July 3, 2023
He suggests that Silver could have told ESPN that he wanted Van Gundy out to ensure a more favorable broadcast environment for the league in the upcoming contracts. Russo acknowledges his bias, as Van Gundy has been a regular guest on his show for over three decades, and he himself appears on ESPN’s “First Take” on a weekly basis.
Russo believes that Van Gundy’s willingness to openly criticize officials played a role in his dismissal, as it resonated with fans but may not have been appreciated by the NBA or ESPN.