|A kinder, gentler Van Gundy?||11.20.09 at 8:20 pm ET|
“I’m going to be be more constructive,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not Little Mary Sunshine, but I’m going to work on being less negative. Be more constructive.”
Van Gundy is one the league’s most direct coaches in his dealings with the media, and also one of the most sarcastic. Not surprisingly, that has rubbed some of his players the wrong way over the years. Van Gundy said he would try to work on it after a meeting with star center, Dwight Howard, but he did want to clear up what he said was a misconception about the nature of the sit-down.
“Dwight didn’t come to me about anything,” Van Gundy said. “I went to Dwight and said, ‘What’s going on?’ Why are we not playing with enthusiasm?”
Van Gundy went on to say that Howard mentioned a few things (expectations, injuries) before getting around to Van Gundy being too negative in his assessment of the team.
“It’s not as big a deal as it’s been reported,” Van Gundy said. “I thought it was done in a positive way.”
Van Gundy and Howard had a public disagreement after Game 2 of the Celtics-Magic series last season when Howard campaigned for more touches.
Howard said everything was copacetic between the team and the coach. “I just told him that we need to see more positive than negative.”
Asked for his reaction, Doc Rivers said, “His coaching style is just fine, honestly.” A few minutes before Rasheed Wallace came by and good-naturedly yelled that he and the group of reporters huddled around him were a fire hazard, which prompted Rivers to add, “On this team it’s the opposite. I go to Rasheed and say, ‘Can you be calmer?’”
|Refs Coming Back?||10.21.09 at 10:11 am ET|
Several reports Tuesday indicated that the league and the referee’s union are closing in on a labor agreement that would return the regular refs to work and prevent the so so-called “replacement refs” (read: scabs) from working regular season games.
People are of two minds on this one. The casual NBA fan will shrug his or her shoulders and wonder why anyone would care about the refs since they’re all horrible anyway. The hardcore NBA fan, on the other hand, is smiling a little bit today because the thought of a 60-foul, 3+ hour game is no good for anyone.
Throughout the preseason it became rather obvious that the replacements weren’t up the speed of the NBA game, which led to a number of ticky tack calls after the original foul. Despite a directive from the league to not talk about the refs, complaints had begun to surface.
Charlotte coach Larry Brown was fined $60,000, while Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was fined $25K for saying the refs favored Magic center Dwight Howard. Not surprisingly, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t like the insinuation. Plus he had already been docked $35,000 for criticizing the refs in a separate incident. (Perhaps Hollins didn’t get the memo that the Magic don’t get any respect from the media, the league or the zebras).
The final straw may have been an exhibition game between the Knicks and Maccabi Tel Aviv, in which Maccabi coach Pini Gershon was ejected and refused to leave the court for an extended time. According to a report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Maccabi had paid $500,000 to play the game and was using the money from the game to benefit an Israeli orphanage.
International incidents aside, the return of the regular refs in time for the start of the regular season is good news for the league, the players and believe it or not, the fans as well.
|Game 7 pregame: The coaches||05.17.09 at 7:55 pm ET|
It’s always dangerous to try and gauge the mood of teams and coaches pregame and then try to extrapolate some kind of meaning out of that bit of pop psychology. But with that disclaimer out of the way, if Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy’s address to the media before Sunday night’s Game 7 could be be summed up in a word it would be “edgy” while Celtics coach Doc Rivers was a bit more philosophical.
Van Gundy was asked, again, about starting J.J. Redick ahead of Courtney Lee and Van Gundy indicated, again, that there would be no change. “I’m sort of surprised that this has become an issue,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t really understand why that is. Ray (Allen’s) had a tough series. I don’t think anyone is asking Doc why he’s sticking with him.”
Asked about defending Allen, Van Gundy said, “We’ve done a pretty good job of not giving him a lot of open looks and then he’s missed some shots. When you play the great players–Paul Pierce, Ray Allen–that’s the best you can do.” And that was about it from Van Gundy who didn’t care to entertain a handful of big picture type of questions.
Rivers on the other hand was asked if a win would validate the Celtics title defense. “I think our defense has been noble all season,” Rivers said. “That’s for you guys to decide. That’s always for you guys.”
Rivers seemed almost wistful when asked about the difference between last year’s team and this year’s saying, “This has been different. We know who we would like to be, but it just hasn’t worked out that way all the time. We’re still trying to discover who we are.”
|Stan Van Gundy on Perk, JJ and fatigue||05.04.09 at 7:10 pm ET|
Part of what makes Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy such an engaging guy to be around is his complete and utter refusal to tap-dance around a question. Ask him something he doesn’t like and he’ll let you know he doesn’t care for it.
Example: In his pregame chat with the press before Game 1, Van Gundy was asked if fatigue would be a factor.
“Who’s tired?” he asked.
Well, the Celtics presumably.
“They played one more game than we did,” Van Gundy said.
Yes coach, but all those overtimes too.
“It’s irrelevant,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You guys do the analysis, we just play the games.”
OK then. But Van Gundy did not hold back his praise when asked about Kendrick Perkins.
“What’s Kendrick’s always been, in my opinion, is one of the better low post defenders in the league,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a good rebounder. A tough guy. Where his improvement has come has been on the offensive end of the floor. Before, this year, and even at the beginning of the year, pretty much his offense was limited to put-backs and some dishes on drives from (Rajon) Rondo. Now the can throw him the ball on the low post. Before he could just turn one way. Now he can go in either direction. He’s obviously a guy who has worked extremely hard.”
Van Gundy saved his best work though for the inevitable JJ Redick-Ray Allen question, as in how in the heck is Redick going to stay with Allen. (Not that it was asked that way, but that’s what everyone is thinking).
“I’ve been asked about the JJ-Ray Allen matchup a lot,” Van Gundy began. “I don’t know what to say about it. It’s two guys guarding each other. The funny thing is the perception you have about players. I didn’t hear a lot of those conversations in the Bulls matchup with Ray Allen and I saw him get 51 on them. My guess is JJ can probably hold him to that.”
Well-played, coach. Well-played.
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