By Kalyn Kahler
ORLANDO, Fla. — Stan Van Gundy has worn many hats during his career.
Following his time as the head coach of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, he gained media experience as a contributor with the NBC Sports Radio network. Now, he’s set to take on a new dual role with the Detroit Pistons as the coach and president of basketball operations.
Van Gundy said his experience as a coach and as member of the media has given him a better understanding of the media’s role. He offered five tips for developing a healthy coach-media relationship during lunch May 24 at the Association for Women in Sports Media conference.
• Work and prepare. “The will to win or the will to be great is meaningless,” Van Gundy said. “What separates people is the will to prepare to win. You are dealing with coaches who have risen pretty high because of their preparation. They’ve probably done that on the basis of their hard work and preparation. They aren’t going to have respect for people who don’t do that.”
• Be objective. Van Gundy says he can’t stand writers who are constantly looking for something negative to write. “There are times where that team might not playing well and some of Stan’s moves may be totally unexplainable,” Van Gundy said. “You have to write that. But that’s different than the person who writes something completely negative during a seven-game win streak.”
• Don’t make criticism personal. Van Gundy can appreciate a good joke or two from the media (such as the way he dressed in mock turtlenecks in Orlando, while Magic owner Pat Riley wore Armani suits), but he warns against any serious personal criticism.
• Two-way trust takes time. By his second season in Orlando, Van Gundy said he felt comfortable sharing off-the-record knowledge with reporters. “I didn’t have to worry that it was going to come out as a source,” he said. “If you want that kind of relationship where you are going to get info and more knowledge, you have to gain that trust.”
• Be willing to accept criticism. “Media people are the most sensitive people you can ever run into,” Van Gundy said. “They want to rip us apart, but if you don’t like something, it’s, ‘Oh my god!’ ”