Hailing Van Gundy's job in the Heat seat
In a year of great coaching jobs, Stan Van Gundy's stands above them all because he accomplished what even Phil Jackson could not.
After the upheaval, turmoil, beheadings and dismissals of far too many head coaches in the NBA this season, it would be hard to come to the conclusion that being a coach is a desirable or viable employment opportunity. While some of the deposed leaders certainly deserved their fate, a far greater number simply have been victims of times that are changing. Coaching is teaching making students better at what they do and where else can you find such splendid company? But like anything else, some are far better at it than others.
And then there have been the jobs performed by the Phoenix Suns' Mike D'Antoni and San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich. D'Antoni has reinvigorated a dormant franchise overnight with daring insight and the most aesthetic style in the league, while Popovich has built the most successful franchise model of the NBA's modern era.
At the end of the day, people who have the privilege of learning under these master teachers can all say they are better off because of the experience and opportunity.
The best of the best coaching jobs this season has been delivered by the Miami Heat's Stan Van Gundy. He has made the recently moribund Heat the NBA's title favorites in less than two seasons. The Heat's level of professionalism, team play, physical fitness and skill development are all directly attributable to coach Van Gundy. While most of the Heat's players have made remarkable progress on many fronts, no one player has come further this year than Shaquille O'Neal. Van Gundy has been able to do what even the legend, Phil Jackson, could not accomplish the last couple of years: get the big man in shape and playing to his capabilities on a consistent basis.
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