Skip to content

Jeff Van Gundy still regrets quitting as Knicks head coach, says Doc Rivers didn’t quit on Celtics

Jun 29, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Jeff Van Gundy AP

Jeff Van Gundy does a stellar job for ESPN and ABC as an NBA analyst, but he was once one of the better head coaches in the league over the course of several seasons.

Van Gundy coached the New York Knicks for parts of seven straight seasons, before voluntarily leaving that job to take a year off. He then coached the Houston Rockets for four more years before leaving the profession altogether, but still regrets giving up on that position with the Knicks to this day.

Speaking on Doc Rivers and the situation with him leaving the Celtics to become head coach of the Clippers, Van Gundy defended Rivers, while citing his own experience in how things ended for him in New York as an example of what quitting truly means.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

Van Gundy opened up about his “bad decision” Friday during an interview on the Michael Kay Show on ESPN radio. They were discussing Doc Rivers’ decision to leave the Celtics to become the Clippers’ coach. Van Gundy defended Rivers, saying what he did 12 1/2 years ago was worse.

“I quit the Knicks, so I know what quitting is,” he said. “I did it. I quit. And it’s something I regret to this day . . . I was just emotionally spent. I made a bad decision and I quit.

“Doc Rivers didn’t quit. He was allowed to pursue a better opportunity for himself. That’s a significant, significant difference that everybody’s glossing over.”

Rivers was going to be paid $7 million per season for three more years if he stayed in Boston, to coach a team that wasn’t going to even make the playoffs once ownership decided it was time to blow things up. His leaving may seem like he was bailing on the team, but it was really the best decision to make for both sides.

Van Gundy left the Knicks after just 19 games in 2001, and said his situation was much worse than that of Rivers’.

“I had a great job with the Knicks,” Van Gundy said. “I let . . . frustration overwhelm me when I should have taken more time to come to that conclusion or a conclusion. Mine was certainly worse.”

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Ray Allen to get MRI on knees then decide future plans

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability Getty Images

    If Kevin Love goes to Cleveland does that impact Ray Allen’s decision?

  2. Summer League in Las Vegas sets records for attendance, viewership

    Jul 23, 2014, 5:09 PM EDT

    Wizards Warriors Basketball AP

    Numbers show a substantial increase in popularity.

  3. Dante Exum knows his leap from high school games to Summer League was not smooth

    Jul 23, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    Dante Exum AP

    Exum is a project but he also could be the point guard of the future in Utah.

  4. Dwyane Wade says he was asked why he flops by a kid at his basketball camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Dwyane Wade Dwyane Wade

    “I was about to get him kicked out of the camp,” Wade joked.

  5. Report: Jameer Nelson near $2.7 million deal to join Dallas Mavericks

    Jul 23, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics, Game 6 Getty Images

    Good pickup to add some depth at the point, something Dallas needed unless you’re expecting a monster bounce-back season for Raymond Felton.

  6. Raymond Felton pleads guilty on gun charges, will avoid jail

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Felton orange jersey Getty Images

    He was given community services, which he can complete in Dallas where he was traded.

  7. Rumor: Sixers have ‘strong interest’ in Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    dion waiters Getty Images

    Waiters will continue to be rumored to be available until he proves he can fit in with Kyrie Irving.

  8. Report: Mavericks void Rashard Lewis’ contract after it’s discovered he needs knee surgery

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Three Getty Images

    Dallas was counting on him for bench depth and now will be looking to replace that help in a depleted market.

  9. Report: Sixers, Nuggets or Celtics could become third team in Kevin Love trade to Cavaliers

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    US forward Kevin Love dunks the ball aga US forward Kevin Love dunks the ball aga

    Minnesota wants to dump some bad contracts as part of the deal, and Cleveland isn’t taking them.

  10. Jerry Stackhouse has contacted Lionel Hollins about a coaching job with Nets

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2 Getty Images

    Stackhouse coached against Hollins at adidas Eurocamp in Italy this summer.

  11. LeBron James apparently remembers everything

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs - Game Five Getty Images

    LeBron has used more than just physical gifts to become all-time great NBA player

  12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar training Roy Hibbert

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Roy Hibbert Roy Hibbert

    Pacers center needs confidence more than a skyhook

  13. Five biggest surprises from Summer League

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    D-League Select v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Russ Smith had a nice Summer League.

  14. Report: Jameer Nelson to meet with Mavericks

    Jul 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers

    Dallas, seeking third point guard, has already met with Mo Williams

  15. Cavaliers sign second-round pick Joe Harris

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT

    Coastal Carolina v Virginia Getty Images

    As Cavaliers position themselves for Kevin Love trade, now was the time to sign No. 33 pick

  16. Report: Grizzlies to hire Jeff Bzdelik as assistant coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

    ACC Basketball Tournament - First Round Getty Images

    Bzdelik, who most recently coached Wake Forest, previously served as Nuggets head coach

  17. Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant share brunch (photo)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Justin Bieber Justin Bieber

    Bieber wearing a Nets hat, so you know what that means…

Featured video

Stephenson goes elsewhere for his future
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (4793)
  2. L. James (3552)
  3. A. Wiggins (3529)
  4. E. Bledsoe (3241)
  5. R. Allen (3075)
  1. K. Bryant (3019)
  2. C. Boozer (2899)
  3. D. Rose (2865)
  4. L. Stephenson (2822)
  5. K. Marshall (2420)