ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy dropped a total bombshell during ABC’s broadcast of Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night.
After Mike Breen read a promo for the the new ABC/ESPN series “O.J. Made in America” (The first episode of which aired on Saturday night and was absolutely spectacular in case you were wondering), Van Gundy proceeded to reveal a stunning story from the night of O.J. Simpson’s infamous car chase.
Van Gundy, who was an assistant coach with the Knicks under Pat Riley in 1994, recalled a conversation he had with Riley about a fascinating encounter Riley had in Los Angeles where Riley always kept a home, with one of Simpson’s closest friends and the driver the night O.J. was arrested in Al (A.C.) Cowlings.
According to Van Gundy, Riley told him while O.J. was apparently sitting in the trunk of his White Bronco with a gun to his head, he instructed Cowlings to slow down and turn up the radio so O.J. wouldn’t miss the end of the Knicks-Rockets Finals game before he made it back to his Brentwood home.
Now I’ve watched hours and hours of O.J. Simpson content from the night of that car chase and while that Finals game will always be intertwined with O.J.’s car chase since they were happening at the exact same time, I’ve never heard anyone discuss O.J. having any remote interest in the happenings at Madison Square Garden that night. Keep in mind that this event occurred 22 years ago as well, and for new information as staggering as this to come out randomly during an NBA Finals game in 2016 is extremely curious.
The only thing we were told that was on O.J.’s mind that night was he wanted to go back to his Brentwood home, and if the police wouldn’t let him, he was going to commit suicide, at least that was what my understanding of the situation was.
I even remember hearing the phone calls law enforcement had with O.J. from the “30 for 30” “June 17th, 1994” and him saying all he wanted was to go home. There wasn’t any mention from him about wanting to know how the Knicks were playing, not that he would tell the police that. One would think with how much coverage there’s been on O.J., someone, anyone would have heard about this wrinkle by now.
Do I believe it? I have to say I found this story extremely hard to believe. This man was about to be arrested for a double murder, had a gun to his head (allegedly), was in the middle of the most epic car chase in American history, and while all of this was going on, he wanted to listen to the Finals on the radio. There’s no way Van Gundy was lying, but I’m just having a tough time buying it.
And how come Van Gundy kept this story quiet for over two decades? And why did Pat Riley never say anything either? Because if it is indeed true, it changes the whole complexion of what is likely the most monumental event this country has ever seen. In order for me to believe it for-real, I think I’ll either need to hear it from either O.J.’s or Riley’s mouths, which I doubt will ever happen.