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My Quarterly Plea for Stan Van Gundy To Stop Whining

 

Stan Van Gundy might be the best pure Xs-and-Os coach in the league right now. He’s that good. 

But he’s also an occasionally insufferable whiner who lives in an imaginary world in which NBA observers disrespect the Magic, underrate his star player and generally treat Orlando like a second-class NBA backwater.

Stan Van Gundy is a smart man, and he knows better. 

Witness Stan’s ridiculous commentary on the fact that LeBron James will win the MVP award (via the Orlando Sentinel): 

“You know how the vote’s going to go. LeBron (James) will win the MVP every year until he retires…

LeBron has to go into the year and basically lose the MVP. You guys have decided he’s the MVP. I don’t even know if Michael Jordan was as hyped as he is, and then [James] goes out and exceeds it.”

And:

“[Defense] doesn’t translate into MVP voting. People look at it as it’s not as important … I don’t understand that.”

Stan is defending his guy, and that’s nice, and by itself this would not be worth any attention. But this comes after a year in which Van Gundy has complained about perceived slights that exist only in his mind and those of the most insecure Magic fans. 

Also: It’s a completely ridiculous statement.

“You guys have decided he’s the MVP.”

No, Stan. LeBron is the MVP because he’s better than the other players in the league, including Dwight Howard, and 100 shot blocks into the 5th row won’t change that. Dwight Howard is a great player. I’ve praised him to high heaven on this blog. He’s the best defensive player in the league, and you could make a nice argument that he’s the No. 2 pick in the theoretical If You Were Starting A Franchise From Scratch Draft. 

But he’s not the NBA MVP. And that’s not something “the media” decided. 

Again: This is not an isolated incident. Not even a week ago Van Gundy complained that the media has been too critical of Dwight Howard’s league-high pile of technical fouls (via the Sentinel, again):

 “There isn’t a guy in this league that doesn’t seem frustrated but when it’s Dwight everybody jumps on it. From the media at least, the national media, he gets a lot of criticism. A lot more than other guys who are no better than he is. I don’t understand it but he’s the whipping boy of the national media.”

I’m not sure who Van Gundy is talking about, but he’s wrong if he thinks Howard is receiving greater scrutiny than other big men who have accumulated so many technicals as to risk a regular-season suspension. It’s nice that Van Gundy defends his own players, but his act of accusing “the media,” as if there were monolithic “national media,” of conspiring to attack Dwight Howard is more tired than Rasheed Wallace after 10 consecutive minutes of playing time. 

Alas, these remarks are only the most recent recent of Van Gundy’s 2009-2010 laments. Let’s reminisce together. 

• When the NBA television schedule game out in August, Van Gundy was unhappy that the Magic had only 24 national TV appearances—one fewer than Cleveland’s 25. No other team had more. He had this to stay

“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.”

And:

“It was a lot of little things, and in the long run they’re not very important, but you feel it. 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.”

It sounded ridiculous then, and it sounds ridiculous now. 

• Then Christmas came around, and Van Gundy had some new commentary about the NBA’s schedule:

“I’m a big basketball guy, but this is a day to spend time with your family. I actually feel sorry for people that have nothing better to do on Christmas Day than watch an NBA game. Hey, look, I mean, basketball’s very important to me obviously, but there are some days in the year where it’s got to take a back seat to something. But the league doesn’t feel that way, so . . .”

To review: Scheduling the Magic against Boston in the 2:30 slot on Christmas was an unfair slight to Orlando; the Magic deserved a marquis slot, preferably against the Lakers in the evening. A few months later: Playing on Christmas is stupid, nobody should have to do it and you’re sort of a loser if you’re watching the games. 

• In between those two comments, Van Gundy told the Sentinel he was unsatisfied with how everyone in “the media” had portrayed the 2009 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, in which Orlando defeated Boston in seven games. Keep in mind: These comments came six months after that series ended. Here they are:

“We didn’t have Jameer either,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy noted. “People just leave that out. You would think by reading the accounts of that series last year that it was the Celtics without Kevin Garnett and the full-strength Orlando Magic.”

Ah, those “people,” disrespecting Orlando again. 

Two things really bug me about this stuff. First: Stan Van Gundy is a great coach. I can’t emphasize this enough. He has done remarkable work with both Miami and Orlando. But if he keeps on going like this—and if he never wins an NBA title—the whining is going to tarnish Van Gundy’s legacy and our collective memory of him as a coach. 

Every coach complains. People expect Phil Jackson to drop a strategic complaint about the refs in the middle of a tough playoff series. Coaches at all levels play the “It’s us against the world!” game. 

But Van Gundy does it more than most, and he does it with an anger and insecurity that are below him. Jackson complains with a knowing smirk. Stan just whines.

Second: He knows better. Van Gundy is a brilliant guy. He reads a lot, he understands advanced stats and he watches a ton of games. The dude knows what’s going on in the NBA world, and he knows very well that anybody who knows the league respects and fears the Magic.

By whining about “the media” and “the people” disrespecting Orlando, he’s lumping everyone into one category of biased fans who don’t bother to do their homework or look past their pre-conceived notions. He’s conflating you, me and John Hollinger with the guys who still think LeBron is overrated because he hasn’t won a ring. 

Stan, I’m begging you: Stop whining. Most of us are above it, especially you, and the only thing it’s accomplishing is to make you look pathetic. 


  • Brendan Jackson

    Not that this really matters, but Boston beat Orlando on Christmas. Also, I don’t care what anyone says, Jameer Nelson does not and will not ever equal Kevin Garnett. No homer.

  • CelticsFan111

    Hey Zach I love your stuff. But I really need your help. Can you respond to this post (or ideally, make an entire post) speculating about the first round playoff schedule. I have tickets for game 1 and 2 but was just informed that a business emergency will take me out of town for Sunday night and Tuesday night was never free. I was banking on this year’s playoffs following the sketch of last years:
    Season (for relevant teams MIA/BOS) ended Wednesday, playoffs started with Saturday then Monday home games.

    Any ideas?

  • Perry

    @Zach

    I love you man, but I don’t see it your way at all.

    First, I cannot disagree with his Lebron analysis. It is true that the MVP is his to lose for the foreseeable future. But so was it for Oscar, Wilt, Kareem, Magic and Larry. They just didn’t have the 24/7 media imprint.

    The way I see it is Kobe is growing older, and only D,Wade can rival Lebron’s highlight reel, which these days consumes more memory on my iphone than my apps. Lebron is Madison Avenue’s new pet sensation. The ABC/ESPN smart set salivates over him and skews their programming in support of him. The world holds their collective breath when he hits the floor. Only a destructive path ala Tiger could unseat him as a ‘GOD’ in the eyes of the ‘dinosaur’ mainstream media. Personally I am sick of his magic dust and would do a snoopy dance in Times Square if we made him choke on it.

    Second, I remember Tommy H. and a few others complain about the Celts’ national television schedule last year. In particular the Christmas day game in LA. Some of us felt that game should have been played in Boston. Ultimately that loss ended the streak — pushing the Celts into a mild tailspin. Like VG or not he’s got a point about Christmas day and the Celtic homers agreed with him.

    Of course the national media could care less about the Celtic intermarry or some silly small market team like Orlando. They deem Lebron and Kobe the ratings King and Queen (ha ha). But as Hyman Roth said…this is the business we’ve chosen.

    If Red were alive he would be feeding the pathetic, gullible media the same diatribe VG has been. Of course Doc is too busy allocating hammocks for his players instead of playing mind games.

    VG’s strategy is spot on. He understand’s his key guy is going to be hammered in the paint, and he knows Lebron is going to receive the majority of calls. So he’s protecting Howard and at the same time using the ‘Them vs. Us’ mentality. Rightfully so because the media has all but handed the NBA crown to the King.

    I thought by now VG would burn out or his players would cry mutiny, but I underestimated him. He’s damn smart coach who just needs a better wardrobe.

    LOL

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Perry: Tommy Heinsohn might whine, sure, but Tommy’s job is more or less to whine about the Celtics.

    Most coaches whine like this, to some degree. Stan, though, is far worse. Gregg Popovich would not make these comments.

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  • http://thinkshesmorelike.wordpress.com/ jylze

    @Perry the MVP was Magic and Larry’s to lose? Which one?

    But yeah it is Lebron’s to lose, because he’s that much better than anyone else. I wish that dude would just go away, but I have to admit he’s a force of nature.

  • Perry

    @ jylze

    Every MVP award from 79-80′ up until 87′ was in play for Bird and Magic. They were the two most dominant players of that era before being eclipsed by MJ.

    I agree with you about Lebron. He just doesn’t need any help from the media and Madison Ave.

    That’s precisely what VG was speaking to.

  • Perry

    @Zach

    True enough, but Pop isn’t lily white either. Every coach uses the media to their advantage, although his demeanor is a total 180 from VG’s for sure.

    Tommy never changed his stripes and he won two championships. I know. I was there and he whinned to the media and to the refs. Made a bundle on that Miller lite commerical too.

    Red actually stuck the trophy in Mussbruger’ face joking about the Laker’s dynasty proclaimed by the media.

    We’ll see if VG’s style is just as effective.

  • DRJ1

    Well, I lol’d at “more tired than Rasheed Wallace after 10 consecutive minutes of playing time” — since it was SO neatly placed to have a sweet multi-level effect. And I disagreed with “that are below him”, since I think this kind of behavior pretty well DEFINES the guy.

  • KY Celts fan

    To me, what’s most annoying about SVG is when he whines and then complains about other coaches who whine, saying things like “Just play the games. Let’s just play the games.”

    It burns me up when he cries like a little girl, then two days later acts like he is above it all.

  • OBH

    Come on Zach. You’re better than this.

  • Mike

    you basically answered why he says this shit in your own post: dude’s brilliant and plays the ‘nobody believes in us’ card to great effect to provoke a team that can, at times, seem disinterested when they’re up 20.

    the bigger question is why you devoted another blog post to stan van gundy. i mean, is this what’s important to celtics fans at this time of the year? i’d worry about that 4-5 matchup.

  • mitch

    mike…if you don’t like his blog….you don’t have to read it…..maybe you are SVG’s whining son lololol

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Mike: Perhaps you’ve missed the 5 or 6 posts we’ve written in the last few days on the Bucks and Heat. I trust you did your homework before your comment. Right?

  • Mike

    nah, i don’t read celtic’s blogs unless i’m brought to one via a link. i just don’t get the point. this is nothing new or newsworthy from van gundy. he’s been motivating the magic this way for a few years now, and you’ve already once blogged about it, and even acknowledged why he probably says the things he says.

    so again, what’s your point? you cheer for a team that talks more shit than any other in the nba and take issue with van gundy playing mind games?

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Mike: You really think that stuff works on Vince Carter? Matt Barnes? Even Dwight?

  • PO

    I recognize all the whining from SVG, and you do bring up a fairly appreciable point.. but this coming from a fan of a DOC RIVERS team?? Seriously?

    Every time i watch a celtics game, read the game recap, postgame comments, all i hear is Doc whining to the referees, complaining endlessly about calls and non-calls, and ALWAYS bringing up the excuse of how banged up his players are.

    I get ur point Zach, and i agree with it.. but its hard for me to read this coming from a fan of a team who (at least this year) talk big but cant back it up.

    I see you look at Doc’s whining first before you go after SVG’s, being a celtic blogger and all.

  • http://celticshub.com Stephen

    Yes –Stan Van Gundy is an annoying whiny little bitch, but I would challenge any other C’s fan that posts here to truthfully answer this question. Would a Van Gundy coached Celtic team with this much talent have lost focus the same as it has under Doc Rivers? Please answer honestly.

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