The Magic, it's been said, are not a team built for the playoffs, an assessment based on their lack of bangers and slashers and their heavy reliance on one man down low and four artistes on the perimeter. Orlando might continue to hear such criticism right up to the moment when
Ditto for the Magic coach.
Van Gundy is as likely to begin a postgame news conference with a shout-out to the kids at Seminole High, plugging daughter
But darn if Orlando doesn't come out of halftimes thoroughly adjusted and primed to dismantle the other guys' big leads.
"The people who know me, some of them think I'm crazy, too," Van Gundy said during the conference finals against Cleveland. "But most of them just think I'm crazy when I coach."
It is atypical in a field in which men try to remain measured, where job security is carefully calculated in points on a scoreboard, minutes on a clock, victories in the won-lost columns and guaranteed years left on their contracts. If unflappable is the ideal, Van Gundy most definitely seems flappable.
"He shows his emotions," said Philadelphia's
How emotional? Enough that Van Gundy has replaced
"I'm really glad he's around, even though he gets on my nerves," a smiling Howard told the
And that's OK?
"I think it is," said DiLeo, whose own style was, by contrast, as cool and calm as a museum patron during his stint on the Sixers' sideline. "If the players know, you know, that he has a passion. He's always on their side. ... The other thing I like, he takes responsibility. A couple of these games, he's said, 'I made a mistake. I should have covered this way,' like when [Boston's]
Mistakes are just bumps in a long road that delivered Van Gundy to this moment. The broad strokes of his life and career are pretty well-documented: son of mother
Some alleged Van Gundy only got that Badgers job for his ability to recruit
And yet, O'Neal missed the playoffs entirely. Donovan still is in Gainesville after a 9-7 SEC finish and an NIT berth this spring.
"I know people analyze his facial expression a lot," Jeff Van Gundy said in a pre-Finals conference call, "but if you look at most coaches when they're in the midst of the playoffs, you don't see a lot of joy until you finish off a series or a championship, because basically, when you win it's a relief and when you lose it's one step closer to elimination."
Said Nets president
Don't look now, but the second banana, one with more than a few bruises, is in the spotlight now. He's not LeBron-Kobe, but Stan Van is entertainment of a different sort for these Finals.