By Charlie Roumeliotis
Former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy has never held back when it comes to speaking out on controversial issues. Now, the current NBC Sports commentator gets paid to do that, and he's at it again.
Van Gundy, who's most remembered for his five-year tenure with the Orlando Magic from 2007-12, chatted with ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss for TrueHoop and went on a mini-tirade when asked about how he feels about cutting down players' minutes.
"The second thing that’s curious, could be in all sports, is supposedly now — if we go back 30 or 40 years, maybe only 20 — supposedly now, our athletes are better. They’re bigger, stronger faster athletes.
"We’ve got better training, OK. We’ve got better nutrition. We’ve got all this technology. Our travel is a lot better. They’re not traveling commercial. Everything is set up better, and yet they’re not capable of playing the minutes or pitching the innings that guys did 30 or 40 years ago. I don’t get that. And it’s not like players are hurt less now than players in those years. Those guys used to play every day. They played 82 games, they played 40 minutes a game. Now, supposedly all these great improvements we made, our athletes aren’t capable of doing that ..."
Van Gundy proceeded by comparing the different situations for some teams, such as Gregg Popovich, who knows his Spurs are going to make the playoffs and has the luxury of resting his guys, as opposed to Mark Jackson and the Warriors, who aren't necessarily a slam-dunk postseason lock.
"My brother's always asked the question: Does the human body really know the difference?" Van Gundy concluded. "Are you really more fatigued after having played 38 minutes over 36 minutes? Over the course of the year you're talking about, let's say it's 40 minutes over 36. You're talking over the course of five and a half months, a difference of 328 minutes on your body over five and a half months. Are you telling me there's an appreciable difference in fatigue at the point? I'm not buying that. But people just accept it."
Van Gundy was relieved of his head coaching duties with the Magic following the 2011-12 season and was hired by NBC Sports Network in November 2012 to be a regular contributor, mainly for NBA and college basketball.