It doesn’t take long for Stan Van Gundy to make friends. It’s hard not to enjoy his personality or approach to things. He says what’s on his mind and stands by his players. He has fun doing what he loves.
In an instant, he can create enemies with his blatant honesty.
Van Gundy didn’t make any friends on Tuesday, when he gave his opinion on the Indiana Pacers’ performance in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Appearing on ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard Show, SVG addressed his feelings on the Pacers performance in Monday’s 102-90 loss in Miami.
“I have been surprised throughout the season but certainly last night in the Pacers,” said Van Gundy. “I guess it’s mental weakness a little bit. Not just the refereeing — that comes up — but Roy Hibbert saying it was a game plan that shut down his production.
“I don’t Know, it seems to me that rather than figuring out ways to win, it’s a team running from accountability and I don’t think that ever works.”
The Pacers look to defend their home floor tonight at 8:30 on ESPN and avoid elimination.
Van Gundy, who was a weekly analyst on Dan Le Batard’s radio show before being hired by Detroit, might have had an ulterior motive for his comments.
After being asked about the referee excuses made by Paul George, the topic turned to keeping Lance Stephenson’s verbal shout outs in check as a head coach.
Despite being concerned with Indiana making excuses throughout the playoffs, Van Gundy had some interesting things to say about Stephenson.
“I think it’s a fine line, but I think Lance Stephenson has actually been one of the key guys in the rise of the Pacers,” said Van Gundy. “Not only with his improved play but I thought even last year — Lance Stephenson has an edge to him and I think it’s an edge that the Pacers maybe don’t have in a lot of their guys.
“Obviously at times maybe he goes over the line but I think the reason that they tolerate it and try to probably balance it out is I think they know they need that edge from someone and Lance is giving it to them.”
For those of you keeping score at home, Lance Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent this summer.
He also seems to fit the mentality and style of play that Van Gundy is looking to implement in Detroit. It’d take letting Greg Monroe walk and possibly a trade of Josh Smith, but don’t be surprised to hear Detroit rumors linked to Stephenson throughout the rest of the off-season.