Mutual Respect

Frank, Van Gundy’s regard for each other grew during Frank’s idle season

Lawrence Frank and Stan Van Gundy have a mutual respect for each other
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When Lawrence Frank was fired 16 games into the 2009-10 NBA season by New Jersey, no one would’ve blamed him had he taken it easy the rest of that winter and spent a little more time with his family. But that would have gone against every fiber of his being, taking it easy. So Frank decided to broaden his horizons by dropping in on NBA and even college coaching staffs to see what new ideas might be out there.

One of his longest and most productive stops was a nearly weeklong stay in Orlando, where his regard for Magic coach Stan Van Gundy grew. Van Gundy gave Frank carte blanche to sit in on team and coaches meetings, practices, pregame locker room talks and film sessions.

“Great respect,” Frank said of his feelings for Van Gundy. “Stan is a great coach. His ability to coach different teams … people forget, when he first took over Miami with (Dwyane) Wade as a rookie, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler – that team really, really struggled, 0-8 (to start the season). Just to see what that group did, he took them to the Finals. On both ends, he’s extremely sharp. I was very, very impressed watching them work and how he coached and taught. I think he’s a tremendous coach and teacher.”

Van Gundy, in scouting the Pistons’ first four games of the season, already sees Frank’s imprint taking hold.

“Certainly, Lawrence has put a lot of work in with their defense,” he said. “They’re working very, very hard on the defensive end and they’re trying to play at a very fast pace. They’re trying to really push the ball. They’ve got good athletes. They’re trying to up-tempo the game.”

Van Gundy, who coached against Frank’s New Jersey teams in both Miami and Orlando, knows what to expect from a Frank-coached team.

“I’ve known Lawrence for a long time,” he said. “He’s a guy who’s worked very, very hard at his profession and has become as good as anybody in the league. His teams are going to defend. They’re always going to be very well prepared. They’re going to be tough to play against – always.”

One other benefit came to Frank from his venture to Orlando. He got to observe Charles Klask during that week. And when the Pistons made him their new head coach, he wanted Klask, who was a member of Van Gundy’s extended staff but not an assistant coach, with him in Detroit.

“I have a high level of respect for Charles,” Frank said. “Extremely, extremely intelligent. When I was fired from New Jersey, I spent a week with the Magic watching them work. Very impressed with Charles’ knowledge. And when I was looking for diversity on the staff, I thought he would be a good complement for the other guys. The fact he was a Michigan native – loved his time in Orlando, spent 11 years with the Magic – but the timing was perfect. The opportunity for him to be an assistant coach on the floor and also for him and his wife to get back to their roots.”