Shaquille O’Neal recently called out Stan Van Gundy for being a “nobody” and his whole coaching career has been one big “flop.”
We all know Van Gundy is the Orlando Magic coach and is the brother of Jeff Van Gundy. Dig a little deeper and you find out that he was a longtime assistant for Pat Riley in New York and Miami. Dig even more deeper and you find that there is some truth to what O’Neal was saying. Van Gundy is a good regular-season coach, but there is evidence that he might have pushed the eject button during a playoff series.
When O’Neal was in Miami under Van Gundy, the Heat lost at home in Game 7 to Detroit in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat carried a seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter but, for whatever reason, could not close the deal as the Pistons rallied and eventually knocked out the Heat. Maybe the Heat did “panic” a little? Hard to say for sure, but usually the head coach becomes the punching bag whenever a team comes apart at the seams. When players see things are going bad, they look to the head coach for leadership and guidance. I believe this is what O’Neal was referring to when he said, “When the general panics, the whole team panics.”
Shaq has been known to embellish from time to time, but The Diesel might be painting a telling picture about Van Gundy.
Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic wrote this after the Suns recently played the Magic:
According to the Arizona Republic Van Gundy said: “I was shocked, seriously, shocked,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “And very disappointed ’cause he knows what it’s like. Let’s stand up and play like men.”
That did not go over well with O’Neal. Here are some of his comments:
“He (Dwight Howard) came with the same old, stale Patrick Ewing move so I tried to stand there and take the charge. The new rules say if you come through, you fall. But as I fell, I realized that it was a flop and it reminded me of Coach Van Gundy’s whole coaching career. The one thing I despise is a frontrunner. First of all, none of his players like him. When it gets tough, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before.
“I see him (Howard) and Stan complaining the whole game because they have to. I’ve done more than him, his brother and Patrick Ewing. Stan Van Gundy reminds me of a broke navigational system. He knows everything about everything but ain’t never been nowhere.”
Shaq, you had me with the “stale Patrick Ewing move.”