Stan Van Gundy’s unfiltered these days. He’s no longer employed by a team, so he’s kind of free to spout off however he likes. He’s not a guy who says things just to say them, like his brother, he has a tremendous amount of respect for players and coaches in the NBA and will want a job back in the league. But you can still tell he’s no longer as diplomatic as he used to be.
Like, for instance, when he lights up a national analyst for comments he made about Spoelstra’s coaching in Game 5:
“Yeah, maybe like the play they ran when Paul Pierce hit the big 3 at the end of the game. There was nothing going on there. It was a step-back, got some space and made a 3. The Heat are doing every bit as much offensively in terms of running plays. Here’s the difference: Doc Rivers won a championship a few years ago, so everyone just gives him the credit of being a great coach — which Doc deserves, he’s great. Eric hasn’t won, so people go into the series assuming there’s a great coaching advantage, which there is not. And because they have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it’s on Erik.”
Why do you think Spoelstra is getting so beat up?:
“I would say there’s basically two reasons. Number one is that there’s an expectation level for the Heat to win and if they don’t, people are just going to make an assumption that it’s coaching. To me, what’s confusing about this one though, is that it’s pretty easy. They have one of the 10 or 12 best offensive players in the league in Chris Bosh, who hasn’t been able to play. … The second thing is, quite honestly, is Erik never does anything to promote himself or try to defend himself. He just coaches his team and takes the heat and goes on.”
Get it? He takes the heat? Because he coaches… nevermind.
SVG’s got a point here, but it’s not going to matter, because people will just associate him as defending Spoelstra from the same criticism he was under as a coach. But the point about championships is on target. We’re never going to know if the greatest coaches were a product of their talent or their systems. SVG is never going to coach Jackson’s Bulls, Spo’s never going to coach the Spurs. You can say Spoelstra had the most talent, but I think it’s pretty obvious the fit on this team is awkward and takes a lot of work to make it run.
Either way, it’s kind of notable that SVG is standing up for the head coach of the Heat, who pressured him out as head coach in 2006, and when he has such muted, reserved things to say about Pat Riley. But then, Spoelstra worked under Van Gundy and has never gotten anything but high marks from those who worked with him. Maybe we should all give Erik Spoelstra a brea…
MEDIA ALERT. NO PASSES GIVEN TO HEAT ONLY CRITICISM AND HYPE NOTHING IN BETWEEN ERROR ERROR.