Denton's Notebook: February 1, 2012

By John Denton
February 1, 2012

ORLANDO – Asked on Wednesday if his 17 years of coaching experience as an assistant and head coach in the NBA allow him now to better deal with losing streaks, Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy had a curious answer.

``Worse, actually,’’ Van Gundy said.

And the Magic’s coach of the past five seasons didn’t stop there, admitting that Orlando’s poor play of late has caused him several sleepless nights and that he recently got a prescription for sleeping pills from a doctor.

``I can’t sleep. I just had to get a prescription for sleeping pills to use a couple of nights a week because I can’t sleep,’’ a candid Van Gundy admitted. ``The thing I can’t do – and a lot of it is because of the way I was raised in coaching – I can’t make excuses and put it off on us having guys hurt or that we’ve played six (games) in eight days.

For me as a coach, I’m responsible for how our team plays. If we don’t play or play hard then that’s on me. I should be able to find a way to make that happen.’’

Van Gundy was 0-7 to start his NBA career as a head coach in Miami and he’s been through a couple of five-game losing streaks with the Magic. But he said he’s taken this particular slump harder because he knows the capabilities of this Magic team. After all, Orlando was once 11-4 before slipping into a funk.

``I can’t make excuses or point the finger at other people to make myself feel better. I can’t do it, so when I look at it from my responsibility, it’s hard to take because I feel like I’m failing and I’m failing other people in this organization who are working hard,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I take that responsibility, but I don’t hang my head and pout about it. I’m going to try to get it right.’’

Van Gundy said he is immune to the talk radio blather that his job should be on the line because he doesn’t listen to it. Van Gundy said he doesn’t spend any time worrying that his job might be on the line.

``Not one day have I worried even one little bit about my job and whether or not I’m going to keep it,’’ Van Gundy said. ``My brother (Jeff Van Gundy) used to say this and I agree with him. Getting fired is not painful. What’s painful is the losing and the way your team is playing leading up to getting fired.’’

Self-deprecating as ever, Van Gundy said that his job was hardly stressful when compared to the real-life struggles that many people face in their daily jobs. Van Gundy admitted that his job allows him to be financially secure regardless what happens in the coming weeks.

``There are people out there working more than one job, struggling to put food on the table for their families and my stress level is, `Can we play well versus Washington?’’’ Van Gundy said. ``So I’m not asking anybody out there to feel once of sympathy for me.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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