I want to like Stan Van Gundy, and I think I’m a semi even-keeled sports fan who (usually) steers clear of blind hate and remote-throwing rage. But, I swear, Stan Van Gundy really needs to stop playing the “nobody respects us” card, because it’s pathetic, nobody is buying it and it’s not even true.
In case you missed it, here’s what SVG said at the Jason Williams introductory press conference today, according to Fanhouse:
“For a team that went to the Finals, we really haven’t gotten the respect teams normally do. Based upon what we did last year, I think our players do feel a little under appreciated and under respected.”
Totally ridiculous, right? Oh, but Stan wasn’t done.
“It was a lot of little things, and in the long run they’re not very important, but you feel it,” Van Gundy said. “Like the television schedule. Normally on Christmas Day, you get a rematch of the teams that played in the Finals. But instead, we get a Christmas Day matchup of the teams that they (TV executives) wanted to see in the Finals.”
My first reaction when I read this was that it had to be a joke. Maybe Fanhouse was planting this phony item to see if any gullible bloggers would bite on it. Or maybe Stan was doing one of those “how far can I push this joke?” bits, like when Austin Powers makes a half-dozen “head” puns after a shark bites off an evil henchman’s noggin.
Because Van Gundy can’t possibly be serious. He can’t be genuinely arguing that pundits have been slighting the Magic this off-season. He can’t sincerely be making the claim that a Christmas Day, 2:30 p.m. match-up at home against Boston is a sign that the league disrespects Orlando. They could put five games on Christmas Day (they have!), and the 2:30-ish slot would be the only one I could realistically watch given the morning and evening festivities. It’s the best slot!
We heard this from Stan all last season, and it made some sense then, both as an honest criticism of short-sighted media analysis and as a semi-legitimate motivational tool. People criticized Orlando’s shot selection, called them soft, said teams that shoot nearly 30 three-pointers per game don’t win championships. If you’re a coach or a player addressing this stuff every day, it makes you angry. I get it.
But let’s review what’s being said about the Magic now.
• The Magic are on national TV 24 times in 2009-10, not including games on NBA TV. Only Cleveland will be on national TV more times next season—one more time, actually. Outrageous! Unfair!
• The Magic are third in NBA.com’s first pre-season power rankings, behind only the Lakers and the Cavs. Hardly unreasonable.
• Here’s John Hollinger, one of the most widely-read NBA writers on Earth, handicapping the Eastern Conference last week:
The Magic look absolutely stacked. At this point, they have to be considered the favorites in the East, and depending on how this remix works out at the defensive end, there’s a chance they could post a jaw-dropping win total.
Mr. Hollinger, you have insulted my honor. (Slaps him in the face with a glove). I challenge you to a duel!
• Here’s Kelly Dwyer writing about the Magic’s off-season moves in a column that was entitled “The Orlando Magic are Stacked”:
Appreciate these moves, because this team is running rings around everyone else this summer…There’s a good-to-great chance it could mean a second round exit. That’s how tough the East is at the top of the order, and that’s OK. Hedo will be just fine in his first couple of years in Toronto, VC is past his prime, and these moves aren’t exactly fiscally responsible.
Doesn’t matter. They’re moves. They’re great moves. This team went to the Finals last month, and in the four weeks since, it’s gotten much, much better. Appreciate that.
Kelly Dwyer is ruddy awful!! How dare he insinuate that the Magic have not earned themselves an automatic pass into the Finals! Why, he’ll probably pick the Bulls to beat Orlando in the playoffs!
• Here’s Chad Ford on Orlando’s off-season moves, which he ranks second-best in the league, behind only San Antonio:
But the big move was the Magic’s deciding to match Marcin Gortat‘s huge offer sheet from the Mavs. Without Gortat, the Magic would have had virtually no depth at center. Now, with him back in the mix, they are deep at virtually every position and look like the favorites to win the East.
Whatever, Chad Ford. Hawaii is not even a real state.
• Want more? David Aldridge wrote that the Magic had the fourth-best off-season in the league:
Anderson, Bass and Barnes give the Magic one of the league’s deepest benches. Considering they lost a key starter and team leader in Turkoglu, it wasn’t a bad summer at all.
Fourth-best? Might as well rank them 30th, DA.
• Here’s Eric Pincus at Hoopsworld: The arms race continues in the Eastern Conference with the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic each adding pieces that arguably makes them the favorite.
Ok, that’s enough. The only piece of evidence Stan Van Gundy has to back up his “disrespect” screeching is that Vegas oddsmakers set the Magic at 13-2 to win the title, behind the Lakers (8-5), Celtics (3-1) and Cavs (4-1). But honestly—does anyone really care about the Vegas odds? I’ll bet you Van Gundy wasn’t even aware of them when he made his pronouncement today—a pronouncement he made at a press conference to introduce a new player, mind you.
This is a shame, because Stan Van Gundy is, by all accounts, a fantastic coach. He’s creative on offensive, his team’s defense is outstanding, he coaches to the talent that he has and he seems able to motivate his players. Shaq looks like a fool for the Master of Panic nonsense. But Van Gundy risks becoming known as a whiner if he keeps playing the “nobody believes in us” card. Because most of us believe. We have for a while now, really. Your players aren’t dumb, Stan. They realize how ridiculous the “disrespect” card is now.
So cram it. Now.