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Eric Freeman

David Stern hits back at Stan Van Gundy

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On Tuesday, Kelly Dwyer brought you the story of Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy comparing NBA commissioner David Stern to various despotic rulers around the world. It was probably a poor choice of words, since, you know, Stern doesn't have much in common with Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gaddafi. In fact, both men would probably dislike Stern greatly.

Not surprisingly, Stern has now responded to the criticism. In an interview with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio's "The Herd" (audio here), he hit back at Van Gundy in his simultaneously avuncular and savage style. Here are some quotes, as transcribed by Zach McCann for OrlandoSentinel.com:

Stern said Van Gundy's comments stemmed from frustration with his own team, rather than with the league. "I see somebody whose team isn't performing, whose star player is suspended, who seems to be fraying," Stern said of Van Gundy.

When asked if he's worried about any more comments from Van Gundy, Stern said he doesn't expect Van Gundy to speak that way again.

"I would venture a guess that we're not going to be hearing from him for the rest of the season," Stern said. "I think when he stops and reads what he said, realizes what he did, he will say no more. ... I have a feeling some modicum of self-restraint will cause Stan, and the team for which he works, to rein in his aberrant behavior."

In other words: "Look, I'm not mad at Stan Van Gundy. He has a lot going on, since his team is on the brink of disaster. He should just quiet down to rescue what's left of his fragile psyche."

That's an exaggeration of the state of the Magic, of course, but that's just how Stern operates. As Bethlehem Shoals explained in a recent piece for Tablet, Stern isn't fully engaged if he's not slyly ragging on people. I suppose that means Van Gundy should be honored to have the attention of the league's top dog, even if it's under less-than-ideal circumstances.

It's enough to make you wonder what will be in the arsenal of zings Stern will brandish during this summer's collective bargaining negotiations. Look out, Billy Hunter -- you're about to be compared to Jimmy Hoffa in the most indirect manner possible.

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