07 June 2007

The Man: Magic Hire Stan Van Gundy

Photo by Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel

This news isn't really news anymore -- it broke late last night -- but it would be irresponsible of me to not acknowledge the hiring of the Magic's new head coach, Stan Van Gundy. AWESOME. Too bad they didn't hire my favorite Stan.

The Orlando Sentinel has a pretty great article here about all the hoops the Magic had to jump through to get Billy Donovan out; to get Stan Van Gundy in; and to appease the Miami Heat, who wanted compensation for letting Van Gundy, a Heat consultant, out of his contract. Otis Smith and the rest of the Magic brass can catch up on some much-needed rest now.

I think Stan is a great choice as coach. He isn't as "big-time" as Billy Donovan, but he's a proven pro coach. Here's what I wrote about Stan on May 28th:
My take: Stan Van Gundy is another solid candidate. He compiled a record of 112-73 (.605) in two-plus seasons in Miami before Pat Riley forced him out. Like Iavaroni, Van Gundy is offensively minded, as the Heat improved their scoring average from 90.3 points per game to 101.5 points per game from his first year to his second. That increase in team scoring coincided with Dwyane Wade's individual scoring, which jumped from 16.2 to 24.1 in the same period. It seems to me that Van Gundy would be a good fit for the Magic, as he might be able to hone the offensive skills of Jameer Nelson and Trevor Ariza.
I stand by all those words.

More words from a while ago: Bethlehem Shoals' short piece from May 25th entitled "Why Orlando needs Stan Van Gundy." When I originally linked to that article, Shoals commented here and explained that hiring Van Gundy would establish "[Pat] Riley/SVG narrative tension." He makes an excellent point: Riley stripped Van Gundy of his head-coaching duties when it was clear the Heat were a good team, reinstalled himself as coach, then coached them to a championship. Okay, sure, he kept Van Gundy around as a consultant, but the way Van Gundy was kicked out was seriously bush-league. Having these two coach against each other alone is fantastic; the fact that their respective teams have a preexisting rivalry makes it that much sweeter.

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