Van Gundy Notches 200th Win With Magic

By John Denton
January 26, 2011


INDIANA – Ever a coach through and through, Stan Van Gundy sometimes allows his perfectionist nature to get the best of him and he can find fault even in 20-point Orlando Magic victories.

But when it comes to his job working for a Magic organization that is on a championship-or-bust mission this season, Van Gundy sees nothing but sunshine, rainbows and gumdrops. Van Gundy will tell anyone who will listen that he believes that he has the best job in the NBA.

Not only does he get to coach superstar center Dwight Howard and one of the most stocked rosters in the NBA, but Van Gundy also works alongside a supportive general manager in Otis Smith and an ownership group headed by Rich DeVos and Bob Vander Weide that is fully committed to bringing a title to Orlando.

``I can’t image a better coaching situation in this league when you look at all of the things. Really, the chance to win -- as big as it is – is below the commitment and the winning culture here,’’ Van Gundy said. ``There are just a lot of places where quite frankly they aren’t on the same page and they are ready to place blame when things don’t go well. But here, even on the business side and the basketball side, everybody is on the same page and pulling for each other. It’s a great, great situation.’’

Van Gundy became the second coach in franchise history to notch 200 wins with the Magic on Wednesday when Orlando routed Indiana 111-96. In three-plus seasons with the Magic, Van Gundy is 200-92, giving him the best winning percentage (.685) in franchise history.

Van Gundy helped the Magic win their first playoff series in 12 years in 2008, helped them reach the NBA Finals in 2009 and got the franchise back to the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. The coach deflected the credit for the accomplishment, saying he’s merely been a part of coaching some dazzling talent in Orlando.

``I’ve like the guys that we’ve coached, but you win because you have good players. That’s usually the reason why you win,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We’ve been blessed with talent and this is probably the best collection of talent that there’s been here for a stretch of time. That pretty much explains our success. I’d say I did a very good job of taking the job at the right time. That’s the thing that I’ve done the best.’’

Self-deprecating humor aside, Van Gundy knows that he’s surrounded by good people with the Magic – and not just on the basketball court. He was downright effusive Monday when discussing the support staff around him and the Magic organization’s desire to succeed on and off the court.

``Obviously you appreciate coaching good players and having a chance to win, but it’s more than that here that you appreciate. I really appreciate the entire organization’s culture,’’ Van Gundy said. ``It’s really a place where the entire organization is on the same page – the business side, the basketball side – they’re all on the same page and that’s pretty rare.

``We have an ownership group that is as committed as it could be and committed to being a huge part of the community,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``And I don’t know anybody who has a better situation working with the general manager than I have. I’m working with somebody that I respect and like and there are no agendas between the two of us.’’

Van Gundy was especially proud of the organization earlier in the season for working to build the state-of-the-art Amway Center for the citizens of Central Florida. In addition to giving the Magic arguably the NBA’s finest arena to play in, the facility will also allow Orlando to attract major shows, circus events, NCAA tournaments and political conventions.

Van Gundy also likes that the Magic organization invests back into the Orlando and Central Florida community. The Magic gave $1 million in grants to 19 Central Florida-based charities last week, and Van Gundy said that’s proof that the franchise wants to make a difference in the community as much as it wants to win its first NBA championship.

``As an organization, one of the things that I like is that this organization wants to do everything well. Their mission statement is to be world champions on and off the court and they really mean that,’’ Van Gundy said.

``Our organization is serious about the commitment to the community and I don’t think anybody here would be happy with winning a championship with guys who didn’t represent the organization and the community well. But our organization also won’t give up until we win a championship.

``There are no shortcuts here. We want to be a championship team, but also a championship organization that is doing things the right way,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``It’s across the board. Everybody that I know in this organization tries to do their job at a championship level and everybody is pulling together. It’s not only the best I’ve been around – because I’ve only been around two (organizations) – but the best I’ve heard about in relation to there being no problems here and everybody is pushing for the same things.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.