Boston Celtics

Van Gundy reveals how Celtics gave him a ‘lifeline' during tough time

"It’s been one of the most rejuvenating things I’ve ever gone through."

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Boston Celtics hired former NBA head coach and longtime broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy as a senior consultant last October.

The move gave the franchise another well-respected and highly intelligent basketball person to provide guidance and input when needed.

Joining the Celtics also helped Van Gundy get through a difficult time in his life.

In a recent interview with former ABC colleague Mark Jackson and his son, Mark Jackson Jr., on the Mark Jackson Show, Van Gundy explained how appreciative he was to get this opportunity with the Celtics.

“I got fired from ESPN on June 30, and then my youngest went to school in August, so we became empty nesters,” Van Gundy told the show. “Then my sister-in-law tragically passed away in the middle of August as well. And my best friend in Houston contracted cancer, and subsequently died this spring.

“For me, when I went to work for the Celtics after the (FIBA) World Cup last fall, I only knew Brad Stevens a little bit. I was really in an awkward place in life, not really knowing where I was going or what my purpose was, or how I was gonna be with this new group of people where I didn’t know anyone. And quite frankly, it’s been one of the most rejuvenating things I’ve ever gone through.

"Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla threw me a lifeline. Everybody on that coaching staff has welcomed me with open arms."

Van Gundy also offered high praise of head coach Joe Mazzulla, calling him a "great coach" and complimenting his ability to empower his assistant coaches.

"What he's done so very well is assemble a group of coaches that care about the results more than the credit," Van Gundy said of Mazzulla. "They have great chemistry together. ... I admire how he coaches his team but also coaches his coaching staff, and allows them both a voice and a runway to express what they feel, and then everyone falls into line behind what Joe decides is best for the group."

The Celtics will have at least one opening on Joe Mazzulla's coaching staff in the offseason because Charles Lee has already accepted the Charlotte Hornets head coach job. Assistant coach Sam Cassell could potentially be a candidate for other jobs, too. The Milwaukee Bucks, for example, reportedly have interest in adding Cassell to their coaching staff.

Van Gundy might have some options in the summer as well. Marc Stein of The Stein Line reported earlier this month that the Celtics are exploring the idea of adding Van Gundy to their coaching staff for next season. Stein also reported last week that the Los Angeles Clippers have "strong interest" in hiring Van Gundy as an assistant on head coach Ty Lue's staff.

If Van Gundy remains with the Celtics going into next season, there's no doubt he will prove valuable in whatever role he's in. He has more than three decades of basketball experience and looks at the game in a unique way.

Contact Us