Stan Should Still Be the Man

Coaches are expendable. Players are not. That’s the traditional wisdom.

It’s hard to disagree with it. Someone try convincing the city of Cleveland that Mike Brown was worth more than Lebron James. Yeah, that would be impossible.

However, it’s time to do away with traditional wisdom in Orlando.

Sure, franchise players are incredibly hard to come by. These guys are your rare, one of a kind, Koh-i-Noor kind of diamonds only found in the British Crown Jewels collection. You don’t simply pick Dwight Howard’s up at the local corner store. That’s why you have to do whatever you can to keep the gem, no matter what the cost may be. Well, supposedly.

The Orlando Magic have been patient enough now. Their patience was partially rewarded when Superman rescinded his trade demand, for now, and picked up his player option for the 2012-13 season. They had been given a reprieve.

Then Stan Van Gundy went to the media to inform them that Howard wanted a new coach, leading to one of the most awkward moments in sports interviewing history. Most people assumed that was Stan’s swan song. All that was left was for the fat man to sing.

Apparently, a fat man doesn’t do the trick.

In a series where just about every man, woman, child and alien gave the Orlando Magic Hell freezing over odds, Stan Van Gundy’s boys went out and took home court away from the Pacers with an ugly, yet impressive 81-77 victory. An opening game win versus the sexy dark horse team of the 2011-12 playoffs with a generously listed 6-9 Big Baby Davis starting at center in place of Dwight Howard was shocking to say the least.

The victory, as shocking as it was, should also be very telling to the Orlando Magic front office.

Whatever the outcome of this series, Stan Van Gundy has to stay on as coach of the Orlando Magic. This game 1 victory wasn’t a result of some hot shooting as you would probably expect. The Magic didn’t even shoot 40% for the game. The victory was a result of them scratching and clawing their way to a typical grind it out, playoff victory.

It’s not the win that should impress you, it’s the way the Magic team have responded to Van Gundy in Dwight Howard’s absence. It is clear that there is only one person that isn’t buying what Stan Van Gundy is selling. Right now, that certain someone is out with a back injury. This performance speaks volumes about Stan’s ability as a coach. How he has been able to keep an entire locker room on his side despite the face of the franchise mailing it in is beyond me.

A coach like that doesn’t come around every day.

I didn’t have a problem with the Magic telling Dwight Howard that he could choose his own coach a while ago. It seemed like the right thing at the time. Do whatever you got to do to keep Superman around. The Magic have spent every year since Dwight Howard was drafted building a team around him. I felt that they had no choice because of that reason alone.

I don’t see it that way now.

Dwight Howard should be the one to go. For the past year he has caused nothing but problems for the city of Orlando and the fact that he is the one guy on the team unwilling to open his mind to Van Gundy is more than a little concerning.

Screw him. Let the baby have his bottle. Send him to Brooklyn, Los Angeles or wherever someone will take him on. Orlando doesn’t need that head case for another wasted year.

Related: Indecision Does Not Compare to The Decision

It is almost inevitable that Dwight Howard will be on his way out of Orlando in a year. Picking up his option was just a desperate attempt to regain some public support and prove that he is a loyal person. Sorry Dwight, it’s too late.

Stan Van Gundy is the more valuable commodity for the Magic. The Magic are going to be left without Dwight Howard soon enough. They don’t want to be left without Stan Van Gundy as well. No need to delay, they can start their rebuilding project a year earlier. Everyone knows they aren’t going to win a championship next season anyways.

Cleveland was left for dead after Lebron spurned them. Orlando GM Otis Smith has the opportunity to begin his rebuild with some real assets instead of starting completely from scratch. Some real assets and, of course, one of the best coaches in the National Basketball Association.

It takes a special man to take a Mike Tyson, in his prime, style beating and come out of it smelling of roses.

The Magic ownership and front office cannot see this situation any other way.

Stan Van Gundy must remain in Orlando.

You can follow Chris Ross on twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also E-mail Chris at or reply in the comments section below.

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8 Responses to Stan Should Still Be the Man

  1. I’m somewhere in between on this. I don’t think we should put this year on repeat again next year, but if Dwight signs on officially and we can find another coach on the level of Van Gundy, then we might have to let him go. I agree with you on the fact that the team has bought in to Van Gundy, which is great, but over the course of his time here it’s been hit and miss. (Developing young players, failing to integrate proven players is just one example) He’s a good coach, but not a trade your star for him coach. In an ideal world though, I hope Dwight watches what Stan and company do this playoffs and buys in.

  2. kmanblazerfan22 says:

    Ya I find this interesting. I think that the coach matters more than the player sometimes, and coaches shouldn’t be blamed for players screw ups.

  3. Totally agree with you on all counts! Dwight has turned into the LeBron of 2012. The only thing I would have liked to see differently would have been Van Gundy releasing the news about Dwight wanting a new coach until after the season was over.
    Other than that he’s a great coach and I would take on my team in a heartbeat!
    Excellent article!

  4. nickbartlett12 says:

    Hey Chris, thanks for your comment on my blog! Appreciate the kind words and can’t agree enough with you about the Magic-Pacers series. It’s funny that you posted about Stan Van Gundy because I’m 100% on your side here. I’ve thought Dwight has been overrated for quite some time and it’s definitely time to move on without him if he proceeds to act like a child. I believe Howard’s value might not get as high as it was this past year, but they should still be able to receive some solid assets for him in a trade. Obviously we’ll see how the saga plays out as we’ll go through the same process next year. But, Stan Van Gundy should stay. He is a fantastic coach who has been able to keep his locker room under control as you noted. I was fairly shocked the Magic pulled out that game yesterday and have to agree that much of that credit is due to Van Gundy. Will be very interested to see how the rest of the series plays out.

    Great post though man. I read over a few of your basketball blogs and am impressed with how well you write. I just decided to give this a try as the playoffs started this year and hope I can build a blog even close to you’ve been able to do. Keep up the good work!

  5. At one point in your honest opinion and estimation have Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith ventured into building the Magic into a championship caliber team ? This is an ill fitting ….. make up in terms of the roster . Simply nowhere good enough to be considered amongst the best in the Eastern Conference !

  6. Todd Kress says:

    You know what, I completely agree with your take on this. I know almost EVERYONE will side with Dwight, saying you can’t let him go rather than a coach. But how can you get rid of Van Gundy? Despite alllllllll the problems and speculations throughout the season, he still has this team slated as the sixth seed in the East. And that was much higher for most of the season. And after their Game 1 victory, although not pretty like you mentioned, it shows that this team is built more around than just Superman.

    Keep Stan. Get rid of Dwight. He’s the most dominant big man in the game, but I’d LOVE to see the Magic make a deep playoff run without him. Just saying.


  7. Todd Kress says:

    Todd here again from . Just had a quick question for you. Would you want to include each other’s blogs on one another’s BlogRolls? We can talk more about this over email if you’d like. My email is … Hit me up to talk about it. Thanks. And once again, good write.

  8. While the coach is usually right, the star player always gets his way. Van Gundy will go and Howard will get his way. That’s just how it goes…

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