Former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets Head Coach and curren...","articleSection":"","author":{"@type":"Person","name":"Andrew Melnick","url":""}}

Is Jeff Van Gundy Helping His Brother?


Former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets Head Coach and current ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy told the Miami Herald the Miami Heat will break the Chicago Bulls single season record of 72 wins and also told the Herald they had a chance to break the Lakers’ record 33-game winning streak set during the 1971-72 season.

Van Gundy went on to call the Heat “unguardable,” which isn’t a surprise considering LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are three of the most efficient players in the NBA. In fact, according to John Hollinger’s efficiency ratings (PER), James was first, Wade was second and Bosh was fourth. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant was third and Dwight Howard was the highest rated Magic player, coming in at sixth.

Orlando did not have another player in the top 50, yet still finished the season ranked second in the team category, which can be attributed to the 3-point shot and Orlando’s effective field goal percentage of 53.6%, which ranked second in the league only behind the Phoenix Suns (who ranked first in the team ratings).

Van Gundy didn’t make his prediction based completely off of Miami’s “Big 3.”

“They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected,” Van Gundy told the Herald.

That may be true. Miami’s addition of sharpshooter Mike Miller was the most important outside of the three major signings, but they put together a nice team full of experienced veterans, including Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, and James Jones to compliment the big 3 and returning players like Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony.

It is certainly a deeper team than most thought they’d be able to put together.

Yet, I’m still not sold on the fact that Van Gundy truly believes his prediction.

There is constant ribbing between Jeff and his brother, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. At times it appears as if Jeff is almost openly cheering against his brother and criticizes him more often than any other coach, but that is precisely what brothers do. You have to think the elder Van Gundy ultimately wants to see his brother to win and anyone who has been around the Magic, especially Dwight Howard, over the last few seasons knows the big man and his squad are most motivated when the media looks at another team as the favorite, taking it as a slight against them.

The Magic thrived in the underdog role against the Boston Celtics and especially the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009 playoffs and lost in six games to the Celtics last season when the media was seemingly getting behind the Magic.

The Magic are already frustrated with the Heat hype and that became obvious when Dwight Howard refused to answer questions about the Heat at his basketball camp and J.J. Redick told reporters he and his Magic teammates were “fired up” about it, singling out Forward Rashard Lewis when he was asked about specific players.

Maybe Van Gundy is just being completely honest with his take on the Heat – I’m sure he’s not the only analyst or pundit who feels that way – but whether he believes his prediction or not is irrelevant. He is helping his brother light an extra fire under his team, especially under his superstar, Dwight Howard.

Howard’s desire to win a championship and improve his game helped lead him to seek out the help of someone who originally criticized him – legendary Center Hakeem Olajuwon. If motivation to prove the doubters wrong leads Howard to work with an all-time great rather than hold a grudge against him, maybe it can help lead Howard and the Magic to even bigger and better things.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page, and co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).