Three years later, Jeff Van Gundy can recall his encounter with Rihanna as if it happened yesterday.
During an appearance Monday on the “A Minute Til 6” podcast, the ESPN commentator reflected on Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and the Warriors, when he was briefly distracted by the 32-year-old singer.
“She walked right in front of our table,” Van Gundy detailed. “I guess she was coming in fashionably late.”
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Van Gundy recounted how the series of unexpected events unfolded as LeBron James “had an incredible dunk” off of a pass from Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson.
“Then the Warriors attack immediately and get fouled. And as I was looking as the play went the other way, she walked right in front of me and I was just starstruck,” Van Gundy said.
While Van Gundy has been teased for”gushing” over the experience, the former Knicks coach has a message for his critics.
“Have you ever seen Rihanna five feet from you? You’d gush too,” he quipped. “It just caught me off guard.”
At the time, Van Gundy was famously distracted while on air.
James dunked in the opening period, before the commentator showed he wasn't watching.
“I don’t know about this, but Rihanna just walked in front of me. Are you kidding me?” Van Gundy said.
After being told by his laughing colleagues to keep his eyes on the game, Van Gundy hit back with a sarcastic “Yeah … what a play.”
In addition to Van Gundy, Rihanna was also in Kevin Durant’s field of vision that night.
Rihanna, a fan of James, infamously heckled Durant, who later appeared to give her a look during the game.
It came as Rihanna yelled "Brick" at Durant as he was shooting free throws during the fourth quarter of the match.
“I don’t even remember that,” he said after being asked about the staredown.
“Yeah, I won’t get into that. I’m cool. Have fun with that.”
Rihanna, a LeBron fan, hit back outside.
“It doesn’t matter, b****, the King was still the King,” she told reporters while leaving Oracle Arena.
This story first appeared in the New York Post and was republished with permission.