Michael Wilbon and Stan Van Gundy In A War of Words, Integrity

At the 5:20 mark of Wednesday's PTI, Tony Kornheiser finished up a conversation about the Orlando-Boston series by asking Mike Wilbon, "by the way, what's the deal with you and Stan Van Gundy? What is that about?" ↵

↵"Stan Van ripped me, which is fine," Wilbon told Kornheiser. "Hey, I dole out criticism professionally, publicly, he can come right back at me. That's fine, I got no problem with that. I'd like him to get his fact straight. He says that we don't, you know, we don't criticize people who won't come on PTI. Well that would include a list of guys like Terrell Owens, who – if he wants to check the tape – we criticize, I do. Bud Selig, David Stern, Shaquille O'Neal is a little annoyed at me right now. His own center, Dwight Howard, has been a great guest on this show, has also suffered some criticism by me, and you. So just get the facts straight, I'd like him to do that." ↵

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↵Note: Wilbon said Van Gundy suggested they don't criticize people who won't come on the show, but Wilbon clearly meant to say do come on the show. So where does this story begin? ↵

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↵Tim Potvak of Fanhouse had a report on Wednesday that Van Gundy is none too pleased with the PTI pundit and ESPN NBA analyst. In fact, he's so not pleased with Wilbon that he gave this quote. Per Potvak: ↵

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↵⇥No. 1, I'm not worried about my job security, and I'm even less worried about what Michael Wilbon would think about anything," Van Gundy said. "He's just ... a talking head. I have refused to be on PTI (Wilbon's television show) for years, for five years. I follow that stuff. If you go on guys' shows, they don't criticize you. If you won't go on their show, they do. That stuff is never known. There's a lack of integrity in that business." ↵
↵Wilbon went Dan Le Batard's radio show in Florida – with the Magic down 3-0 to the Celtics – and said, at the time, he thought Van Gundy would be fired. So in response, Van Gundy intimated that Wilbon said that, in part, because Van Gundy refuses to appear on PTI. He's basically saying that Wilbon's lack of integrity would lead him to protect those who come on the show, and go after those – including Van Gundy himself – who don't. ↵

↵If you know Wilbon, you know him to be a prideful man, maybe to a fault. It comes as no surprise, then, that Wilbon isn't too keen on Van Gundy's comments. Before going on PTI, he spoke with Shannon Owens of the Orlando Sentinel blog Sentinel Sports Now: ↵

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↵⇥“[Van Gundy] 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.” ↵⇥

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↵It should be noted that Wilbon named one of his best friends in the business, Barkley, and Kornheiser's old camp counselor, Larry Brown, and used the term "have to criticize." That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for objectivity and a lack of favoritism for those who come on the show. But his overall point is still valid: PTI is not a pay-for-play situation. It's evident, if you watch the show, that they pull no punches when discussing topics and the sports figures to whom those topics pertain. That obviously extends to radio interviews as well. Are they chummy with their guests? Sure, because it makes for a better interview. But for Van Gundy to chide Wilbon, and the entire business, for a lack of integrity, isn't exactly fair. ↵

↵Hey, isn't his own brother in the business? ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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