As the Orlando Magic flirted with elimination and a 3-1 deficit last night heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy and Pardon the Interruption host Michael Wilbon were locked in a war of words. Wilbon, who moonlights as a NBA analyst, started the brouhaha on Monday by telling Dan LeBatard on his Miami radio show that he had heard “rumblings” about Van Gundy’s job being in trouble if the No. 2 seed Magic lose to the Celtics in this series. Van Gundy responded by screaming incoherently, throwing his hands in the air and finally giving Brandon Bass playing time.
Van Gundy actually lashed out at Wilbon yesterday prior to the Magic’s 21-point slaughter of the Celtics by calling Wilbon a “talking head” and questioning the integrity of a man who has never suited up to play nor been in a locker room. Van Gundy added that Wilbon has it out for him because he’s chosen not to appear on PTI and that hosts of such shows choose their friends based on favors. Wilbon, a self-proclaimed journalist, responded to Van Gundy’s comments in a phone interview later yesterday, name-dropping a bunch of athletes and coaches who have appeared on PTI, and ripped right back at Stan.
Tell us one side of the story, Shannon Owens of the Orlando Sentinel:
“He may want to check his facts first before he shoots off his mouth. He can criticize me, I’m not above taking it publicly, but he may want to get his facts straight. And I will tell him that when I see him.”
Michael Wilbon added, “There’s no deal in place that if you come on our show, you don’t get criticized. Charles Barkley is one of my close friends and there’s praise for Charles and we have to criticize Charles. Larry Brown, same thing. Mike Brown was just on the show and we had to criticize him after the playoffs. I don’t know where that comes from and before [Stan Van Gundy] questions my integrity, he needs to check his facts.”
Owens went on to defend her “mentor” Wilbon, saying that Van Gundy was way off base and the guy is just doing his job and blah blah blah. As a Magic fan, season ticket holder, and former sports journalist, I can say from an Orlando media standpoint that Wilbon’s claim about Stan’s job being in trouble is far-fetched. He’s the first media personality to mention it and the only rumor source I’ve heard of. Then again, for the sake of the journalistic integrity that I once went to school for, my best sources are a couple homeless people who I make sing popular 80s songs for loose change. Also, this whole thing is stupid and embarrassing for the NBA Playoffs.
Wilbon will address the issue on PTI today at 5:30, and Van Gundy will respond by screaming at traffic and taking JJ Redick out of the game when he’s nailing shots from the MTV Rock and Jock 10-point circle. Then Vince Carter will show up, yawn, and ask anyone if they’ve seen his Snuggie.