NBA analyst, ex-coach Jeff Van Gundy to speak at basketball banquet

Jeff Van Gundy, former coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets and currently an NBA analyst for ESPN, will be the keynote speaker Monday evening at the Christmas City Classic boys and girls basketball banquet at Moravian College’s Johnston Hall.

The event, which will be televised by Service Electric-2, will also honor the Easton Area High School 1971-72 and 1972-73 boys basketball teams.

Van Gundy began his basketball coaching career during the 1985-86 season at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York.

On July 28, 1989, Jeff Van Gundy became assistant coach for the New York Knicks. The next six-and-a-half seasons were spent providing support to Knicks coaches Stu Jackson (1989-1990), John MacLeod (1990-1991), Pat Riley (1991-1995) and Don Nelson (1995-1996).

During his tenure as an assistant coach the Knicks won three Atlantic Division titles, never finished lower than third in the division, and qualified for the playoffs in every year. The Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993 and the NBA Finals versus the Houston Rockets in 1994.

Van Gundy was the head coach of the New York Knicks from March 8, 1996 until his resignation on December 8, 2001. He led the team to the playoffs six times, including their run to the 1999 NBA Finals.

Van Gundy was hired as head coach of the Houston Rockets in 2003. On May 18, 2007, Van Gundy was fired from that position after the team’s seven-game, first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.

During his NBA career as a coach, Van Gundy has his share of incidents. One of the most famous ones happened during the 1998 NBA Playoffs series between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat.

When the Heat’s 6’10”, 240-pound center Alonzo Mourning and the Knicks’ 6’6″, 250-pound forward Larry Johnson engaged in a violent, bench-clearing brawl, Van Gundy unsuccessfully tried to break the fight up. Most memorably, the 5’9″, 150-pound Van Gundy fell to the floor and clung to Mourning’s leg.

Another incident happened in 2001, when in a game between San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks, Danny Ferry (Spurs) elbowed Marcus Camby (Knicks).

While talking to the referee, Camby lost control and tried to punch Ferry. He missed and hit Van Gundy instead.

In May 2005, Van Gundy was fined $100,000 by the NBA for accusing referees of targeting Houston Rockets center Yao Ming.

Van Gundy blamed Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for causing the referees’ alleged bias. This is the largest fine handed down to a coach in NBA history.


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