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Stan Van Gundy talks to Stanley Johnson about rookie’s words on LeBron James, Cavaliers

Stan Van Gundy, Stanley Johnson

Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy talks with Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Friday, April 1, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


Stanley Johnson said he’s in LeBron James’ head, called the Cavaliers deep reserves “cheerleaders” who belong in the stands and described LeBron’s bump as a “cheap-ass shot.”

That’s a lot of noise from anyone, let alone a rookie on a team down 2-0.

So, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy sat Johnson down with a message that isn’t hard to infer.

Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
I had a talk with Stan today, so I’ll leave it at that. I told him what I thought about his comments and everything. So, that’s a discussion that we had today.

You have to realize he’s a 19-year-old kid going through this for the first time, and you get him right after a game like that, he’s frustrated and all of that. It wasn’t – We met, we talked. He knows how I feel, what my concerns are. But it wasn’t a, it wasn’t – at least I hope he didn’t take it – it wasn’t an anger session. It wasn’t a “you’re an asshole” type of thing. It wasn’t. It’s just another learning experience for a 19-year-old kid.

Johnson, via Aaron McCann of MLive:

“He just wanted to make sure my head was in the right place pretty much,” Johnson said. “You (reporters) took bits and pieces of what I said and put it front page. You guys did a great job at that. I found out the hard way how that goes.

“I think for us, me especially, as I always was, now it’s all about Game 3. It was always about winning games. As much as stuff can be talked and things can be said on the court, it’s all about who wins and who loses.”

Reporters emphasized someone’s most interesting quotes and ignored the bland answers (all without taking anything out of context)? If this is a revelation to Johnson, that shows just how much he has to learn. His statements were absolutely newsworthy, and the media rightfully focused on those rather than non-newsworthy things he also said. That’s what interests fans.

Johnson probably got in over his head as the primary foil to the popular LeBron. Van Gundy did well to ensure Johnson didn’t double down on attracting this attention.

The only thing Johnson can do now, as he said, is put the focus back on the court. Unfortunately for him, succeeding there against the powerful Cavs will be a huge challenge.