Stan Van Gundy Unchained!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Months removed from his most recent coaching stint in the NBA, Stan Van Gundy‘s words still resonate.

The colorful former coach of both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat didn’t hold anything back when discussing his life, the NBA, politics, Lance Armstrong, his future and plenty more with Jon Saraceno of USA Today. And because he’s no longer bound by his employer to watch his tongue, you better believe he let it all out.

Van Gundy answered questions the same way he coached his teams, without a hint of reservation and as brutally honest as possible. Best players he’s ever coached? Dwyane Wade followed by Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal (with the qualifier that O’Neal was in the latter stages of his stellar career).

Is politics in his future? He’s never going to run at the top of a ticket for anything. And who is to blame for him not joining his brother Jeff Van Gundy on ABC/ESPN broadcasts in some capacity? NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The most overrated player in the NBA? Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (“He’s not a guy who should be third in the [All-Star] voting.”) followed closely by Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams (“I never thought Deron Williams was overrated but right now people still look at him as one of the top two or three point guards in the league. He hasn’t been that in recent seasons.”) And the most underrated? Nets guard Joe Johnson is Van Gundy’s most “underappreciated.”

If Van Gundy has designs on rejoining the NBA coaching fraternty, he’ll have to be ready to answer a few more questions about some of his answers with at least several teams. He didn’t hold back on a number of topics, and that includes the league’s topic du jour (the train wreck that the Los Angeles Lakers have become):

Q: Biggest surprise this season?

A: Like everybody, probably the way the Lakers have struggled. There are probably pretty easy explanations for it. I’m not totally (surprised), but if you had asked me early in the year, I thought they would win the West.

I never could have predicted they would have screwed up the coaching situation — fire a guy (Mike Brown) five games into the season and be on three coaches 11 games into the year. Or have predicted their injuries. That’s as screwed-up a team as I’ve seen in a long time.

Q: What about team chemistry?

A: I still think that would’ve worked out. Training camp now is a total waste. Bill Walsh in his book (Finding the Winning Edge) said that you have to stay true to your process. You don’t circumvent the process. The Lakers screwed up the process. They haven’t given it a chance to work.

Gregg Popovich says you can’t skip steps. They skipped. (Coach) Mike D’Antoni is coming in on the fly and doesn’t have time to build chemistry and respect in the locker room. I feel badly for Mike because he’s a great guy and a great coach. The situation is impossible.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys who are qualified to coach. But the key thing is you all have to be on the same page. I sometimes marvel how organizations sometimes shoot themselves in the foot.

Q: Was Phil Jackson the solution?

A: I think Phil would have run into the same problems. Kobe (Bryant) and Pau (Gasol) are really the only guys left (from his tenure). It all would have been new — he would’ve gone through the same chemistry problems. I mean, I think they should have stuck with (Brown).

There are some firings where, even if you (personally) disagree with them, you see where (management) is coming from. (But) five games in? If you weren’t committed to Mike Brown, you shouldn’t have brought him back. With two new high-profile players, he needed time to put this together.

Q: But was Brown the right guy for the Lakers?

A: I think he was . . . he could have been. They really didn’t have the people to play that way. The hired Mike D’Antoni and they’re (supposedly) going to bring back Showtime. Showtime? Are you kidding me? Those (older players) aren’t going to be Showtime. They weren’t really Showtime when Phil was there, quite honestly. They executed in the half-court and used their size.

D’Antoni is a great coach but they have to have the right pieces. It all has to fit — what management wants, the type of players and the coach. It’s not an easy thing. For all the success they’ve had, I just think this year that they’ve looked pretty foolish as an organization.

The truth according to Stan Van Gundy is a lot of things, but it’s never boring.


  1. Max says:

    Stan just told it like it is about the Laker’s management decisions! Got to say “Hats off to Stan”!

  2. Noah says:

    As a laker fan, I think they drop the ball on this one. Mike Brown wasn’t given a chance and this is the outcome. Well, you live and you learn.

  3. Joe Smooth says:

    Mike brown was not the answer, he couldnt even get it done with LeBron for 8 years. They shouldve tried to get phil or someone else. They have a championship roster that some coach needs to jumpstart.

  4. Stick a fork in them. Lakers are done this season. Totally the fault of management. First and foremost they Fired Mike Brown after only 5 games. How stupid is that. Did they think that D’Antoni was a magician? Did they think that D’Antoni was that much better than Brown?
    Can’t wait to hear who in management made the initial call to fire and hire.

  5. Dwoldstarr says:

    The coach will not take one shot. Bring in whoever you want… The players have to make it happen!

  6. Lee says:

    Stan Van Gundy should go to the Brooklyn Nets.

  7. Kofi says:

    I feel miserable about the Lakers situation though I am a Heat super fun, but is World Pace the blame he promised the Lakers 73-9 run in hopes of beating the MJ record, anyway I wish them well as an organization MIA to win 4 chips in a row believe it or not God is with us, thanks

  8. Ale says:

    Why did SVG say that Howard wanted him fired, to the press? That is a huge flaw? SVG should’ve have never said that to the press. Once a player like Howard wants you gone, you are gone. Just treat everybody nice and say farewell in a nice way. Had SVG done that, he’d be coaching today, but since he didn’t do that, and he did such a stupid thing as trying to expose Howard, he will never coach again, never. Dumb is as dumb does…

  9. NetsFan21 says:

    Look Stan Van Gundy, he’s a cool coach, but he must be out of his mind when he says Deron Williams is overrated. I understand he’s not doing as good as he did last year, or how good he should be doing, but he isn’t doing bad, I mean he had a 52 consecutive free throw streak for crying out loud. I do agree that Joe Johnson is underrated. He made some clutch plays this year and I think he deserves some more credit.

    • dattebayo says:

      Deron Williams recently signed a max contract and he has been playing like an average player since last season. How is he not overrated? He was an Olympian last year and people think he is an allstar, yet he doesn’t produce like one.

  10. cp10 says:

    Stan tells it like it is!

    $300 is what a ticket costs me for a good seat at a game.

    ps, please correct the video, it’s showing an outdated interview

  11. LA LAKERS says:


  12. jess hinojosa says:

    Jim Buss is not all that bright. Everyone’s saying “Why was Brown fired after only 5 games?” Jim Buss either did not like Brown personally, or he has no basketball knowledge, what-so-ever. Stan made it clear, by firing a coach so early into the season, it wasted all the time the team had put into training camp. And if you’re going to decide to hire a new coach, hire a better coach than D’Antoni, he just is not a championship caliber coach as Phil Jackson is, or a Doc Rivers, or even Sloan. Phil wanted to return to LA as head coach, but he also wanted a piece of front office, but of course Jim Buss was to stubborn to accept that offer. But you can’t put all the blame on Buss and D’Antoni for their garbage decision making, Kobe’s accepted the fact that this Laker team just can’t do it, and has decided to just throw it up every time. If i’m the Lakers right now, I’m trading Howard for pieces to my puzzle, and in the off season I’m hiring Phil Jackson as myvhead coah

  13. Kobe4Ever says:

    I think Mike Brown should have been fired long before the 5th game in the season. He was way out of character with the Lakers. Now what? Well, I guess that, along with chemistry, you gotta have a good team, and the thing is our beloved Lkers don’t. 4 great, and I mean really great, players, 2 of which are kinda old, one does not have full management support, one who still has to prove to be a champion, plus a supporting cast which wouldn’t make it on many tems…well, I don’t think they’re gonna go far. Well, may be far down the standings.
    And it’s pretty sad, given the season Kobe is having this year…

  14. LOLakersFans says:

    Really lakers fans? Mike Brown was the answer all along? Of all the excuses that could be uttered this is the most hyprocritcal one. Just a few months ago all you see in ANY of the lakers blog comments was “FIRE MIKE BROWN” “BROWN HAS GOT TO GO” etc. etc.

  15. borats says:

    please stop drinking bricks when ur an interview

  16. Jimmy Jazz says:

    Lakers shoul have hired Brian Shaw 2 yrs ago. They’ve tried to be to clever, the simplest solution would have been the best

  17. Rick says:

    Come on guys. You people saying Brown should have been given a chance were the same people who were calling for his head when things went south. Typical case of “be careful what you wish for”.

  18. Phil says:

    Why aren’t people talking about the disappointing season the 76ers are having?Their records are almost identical. There are a lot of other interesting stories without constantly discussing the shortcomings of the Lakers.

  19. Marvin Z says:

    Mike Brown is the right mentor for that lakers, I don’t understand why they fire the guy after coaching 5 games.

  20. jake s says:

    You can’t just keep firing people until things go smoothly. I don’t think the players are looking foolish, they are just trying to build a rhythm. If you ask me, it is the Lakers management that is looking foolish.

    • Whose Team Is It says:

      You see when Kobe declares ” . . . it’s my team” and coaches Mike Brown & D’Antoni reaffirm that garbage in the media they only has himself to blame. Such comments can never build team chemistry or bring out the best in your peers. Kobe would never pull a stunt like that with Phil, Coach K or Pop in the locker room. You never hear any of the Spurs players trying to one-up each other like that. And, as a result, all the young players even the acquired veterans like Diaw and Captain Jack play for the TEAM’s success not for individual stats because they’ve bought into the TEAM concept. Phil had to keep Kobe in check in the Shq/Kobe era for that team to win as it did. Kobe is now chucking up 20-30 shots per game and no one has the …….. to rein him in – well i guess because it’s his team afterall. Let’s see him win a championship himself . . . SHAME!

  21. bryan says:

    Lakers needs phil Jackson

  22. Owned says:

    I still think Van Gundy is greater than Spoelstra for the heat. I have more respect for him. Spoelstra is just a man-kid no offense. But I think if they will change they will have to do it after the season to avoid chemistry issues.

  23. C. Blair says:

    I’ve been saying the same thing as Stan Van. Mike Brown isn’t my favorite coach, but removing him 5 games into the season was a piss poor thing to do.

    If Mike Brown didn’t do anything illegal or wrong against anyone in the lakers org, then the decision shows that the management in lakerville do not know what they are doing. They effectively ruined the season by doing this!!

    They should’ve given Mike Brown, or Bernie Bickerstaff, at the least, the opportunity to coach through the season.

    I don’t even watch LA anymore! If they are to be known for decisions like this for the next couple of years, I’ll spend my time watching the injury-plagued Timberwolves!!

  24. lukas says:

    Coach van gundy just supporting everybody from his friends-coaches, according to him everybody is good, brown is good, d antoni is great, borring and far from reality, none of the coaches is good enough, brown did nothing with lakers last season and d antoni has been already having more time than four preseasons to make this team play at least decent way and the coach is always as good as his results are, no more and no less and there is no other way to measure their job

    • dattebayo says:

      Brown did nothing with the Lakers last season? You will have to agree, that they played much better defense with less talented players.

  25. Bstarr says:

    Great post Sekou but nothing new in it, especially the overrated guards from Stan, I 100% do agree on both! Everybody knows the situation in LA and we can all see the struggle they are in. I predict for next season: Dwight Howard will leave the Lakers and Stan van Gundy is going to replace Mike D’Antoni. Dwight is the only reason why Stan is not on that seat at the moment. Watch my words!

  26. Esteban Rivera says:

    Stan is the man. and when Orlando acquired him as head coach, it was one of the best things that ever happened to the Orlando Organization. The NBA staff needs to stop hand feeding their players individual needs and worry about the team needs.

  27. dj rgm9 says:

    Forgot to mention; Mike B.was not that bad for LA just his new system,the princeton offence was a bad idea to use it that’s what made him quick fired under patienceless co-owner.Man Brown! Why comming up with that princeton offence before?

  28. dj rgm9 says:

    Mike Brown was a good coach just enuf to keep the Lakers in some play off rounds,that’s it!Mike D. is maybe a great coach on the offence end but not for the nba today (defence, the worst one).Jerry sloan is ok for LA,especialy for pick n rols with big men and good point guard.Again Nash is not enuf today to lead the offence(also defence liability).The management failed again with a good back up for Nash,Lakers d’ont have other than Nash.They are no plays for Meeks
    3 points shootings,Mike d’ont use him.I d’ont see helping screens between the LA big’s,at least to make the big’s easyer reacing some touches.No helping screens used for Nash at times,simple basic stuff!Player’s rotation not used corectly by Mike,to predictable for other team’s.We see the helping men to men defence is nowhere,not enuf trainingcamp with eachother!Another lost season is comming,thanks to themself’s.

    • Andrew says:

      Finally someone notices it.

      The problem now with the Lakers is not really the chemistry issues (but yes there’s an adjustment for them to know each other’s strengths and opportunities), or injury problems or who’s coach should be fitting on the team, read this guys.. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SYSTEM!
      The system of coaching, the system of their plays, the system of using each other’s talent and skill set, and the system of rotation of players. They don’t execute basic plays, they don’t do isolation plays for whoever is hot on the game, they don’t look for the minutes played and still sticking to the guys that’s not contributing.
      There were no execution plays for 3-pointers (specially Jodie Meeks), they don’t feed the bigs prior to the weakness of their opponent (like the MIAMI HEAT) There’s no missing piece here anymore they all have to the right stuff (Big 5), what can you ask for? Bench players have the guts, specially Earl Clark whose just stepping up right now on the team.Just watch your games LA and you can easily identify what’s going on with your system, please……….. it’s not too late! But hurry time is running off for playoffs. *sigh

      (I’m a Laker fan)

  29. uoykcuf says:

    who fired Mike brown? Don’t you all forgot the death stare from Kobe?

  30. KunJayMaster says:

    My opinion pretty much the same as everyone else’s great points by SVG love to hear him on 790 The Ticket, hope to see him coaching again.

  31. Tom says:

    nah brown is a bad coach, head coach at least. if you brought him in as a defensive coordinator kinda like Thibs when he was in Boston, i think he might be good, but people are forgetting how much he was simply out coached in Cleavland and in LA. and Mike D’antoni…lets just call that what it is, a clearly defiant decision by jim buss to try and insult/move away from the Phil Jackson era. i don’t think the Lakers would have won a championship with phil, but i do think they would have made the playoffs. players respect a coach who has done what phil has. listen to shaq talk about when phil first came to the lakers. i believe if phil had come back he’d be realistically looking to win another championship next year.

    • dmh says:

      Agreed…. Buss JR has ruined the lakers. It has been the case of square peg in a round hole with Mike D. Here are the choices for LA…. 1. Leave it as it is, pray and continue this illusions of grandeur that will ultimately leave the lakers outside of the playoffs. 2. Remove the square peg in Mike D and replace him with a round peg like SVG, or Bickerstaff…. or 3…. replace the round hole of a team with a square team that fits this image of a team and the coaching. Get younger, fresher legs that can shoot out of a building and defend that way too.

      Think about this one for a minute… The lakers have made the playoffs with and without Bynum and with and without a bench for the past several years. In theory, regardless where Dwight is physically, if coaching is on cue, then ultimately this should be a playoff team, in spite of their age. Nash is talented enough to adjust to any system. D’Antoni may have inflated Nash’s stats a little, but Nash’s Dallas days prove that it wasn’t by a whole lot. Since it is easier to fire a coach in any circumstance Buss realistically needs to replace both. Get a flexible coach plus start making trades to get younger. There are teams out there that are a piece or two away that probably would be willing to take on some of those contracts. There are always Pau to Minnesota rumors floating around. Getting a former No. 2 pick or any pick and actually developing him is something that the Lakers have not done since Kobe and Derek Fisher were rookies. Granted, there has not been young players to develop in LA in forever, but maybe they should start.

  32. Sea Pea says:

    Sloan will give you that pick and roll Nash needs. He knows how to use two big men as well. Malone and Eaton. Malone and Ostertag.

  33. newyorksteelo says:

    Bring back Stan Van Gundy. Maybe he can coach the Phoenix Suns.

  34. Sea Pea says:

    The campaign to nominate Jerry Sloan….

  35. Duane Murrill says:

    With the team that the Lakers have right now and their chemistry problems, as well as all of the other teams in the West who have improved, this season is a wrap for them. Let’s regroup and prepare for next season. The coach has to be a little more realistic about what he’s working with and their limitations. Time to rebuild!!!

    • RJ says:

      Rebuild? 3 future hall of famers, and one who’s going to be damn near a hall of famer? A coach who took a team multiple rounds into the playoffs multiple times, despite only having one player who really played any defense (Shawn Marion) most of that time? One of the best defenders (Artest) of this generation, who can also put up 20 himself? And this is a season the Lakers need to start rebuilding. Y’all need to learn about some rebuilding for sure. This is not rebuilding. This is just incompetence.

  36. wouterkleijn says:

    Much more interesting and fundamental are Van Gundy’s comments on the way the NBA is heading for. I totally agree: dial back the number of games and the prices. NBA resembles the financial sector: more more more!

    Q: Let’s switch to hoops. Greatest challenge facing the NBA?

    A: I think we disregard fans too much. They drive our sport. The money has gotten so big that it has become a corporate league other than the nosebleed seats. It’s getting worse and worse. The business concern is growing the next generation of fans. The NBA keeps getting more and more TV money, and keeps charging more for tickets. I’m sure (Commissioner David) Stern would talk about the logistics of putting the league in Europe (as the looming issue). But my concern is can a teacher (afford to) take his family of four to an NBA game? No.

    Q: We anoint you Commissioner For A Day. First act?

    A: I think (Stern) had the right idea with our last lockout (regarding) this runaway train of money. It had to stop at some point. It’s hard because players aren’t going to want to give back. Selling advertising on jerseys is preferable to keep jacking up prices on the fans.

    I remember moving to northern California (as a boy) in 1968. My dad was a high school coach. We could afford to go see the Warriors. If you measured then the cost of a pro basketball ticket to a movie, it’s not anywhere near what it is now. Maybe that train has left the station.

    Q: Would you alter the game in any way?

    A: The product is pretty good as far as rules and officiating. The game is in a good place. The thing that would make the game better never is going to happen: Play one game fewer per week for each team.

    Q: Well, it could happen — if the owners were less greedy.

    A: And the players. I remember last year playing this crazy (lockout-related) schedule. Guys were complaining. I said, “Wait a minute. You guys agreed to this because more games (meant) more money.” Let’s cut it back to 66 games like we did last year. In the long run, they might make a little less money, but it would be better for the players’ health and bodies. You would get a little more practice time, which would add to the quality of the games. From a fans’ perspective, fewer games makes (them) more meaningful. The NFL product is great because every game means something.

    Cutting 16 games off the schedule basically would take off the back-to-backs. Then you would get rid of the Gregg Popovich situation (where a fan sued the team because the San Antonio Spurs coach rested his star players at the end of grueling road trip). But that is fantasy land.

  37. I like his honesty and approach to life. He just says what’s on his mind and stays true to himself and others. That’s the way to go, a quality way.

    • marcus says:

      I totally agree.. Van gundy has earned a rite to say what he wants when he wants and how he feels…the only thing i dont agree with is that deron williams is he is not a top 2or 3 point guard in the nba but he is defenetly a top 10 point guard he is just not having his best season

  38. Jacques Durceille says:

    I respect the Van gundy. Showtime lakers are dead. There is no showtime with 30-40 year old players. The firing of mike brown was a travesty. D’antoni cannot run and gun this team to a championship even if jordan was on it. There needs to be a new plan, but now its too late. He was stubborn and wanted to run this team with no defense the same way he did in phoenix.

    A season has been lost. They only get older. Next season will be even tougher for them. OKC over all of the west and Miami over all of the east.

    The lakers are fading fast through stubborness. D’antoni is stubborn thinking his vile system will make the lakers win. Kobe is stubborn taking 25-30 shots a game and giving howard only SIX thats right SIX attemps and gasol barely getting 7 or 8.

    The death of the lakers has arrived folks. Enjoy with the utmost extreme of pleasures.

  39. Macky says:

    I think Phil would have kept Kobe’s ego in check. Aside from that Van Gundy is spot on other than having them win the West early the season. I talked to people early on that said this team would be an 8 seed before pre season started…even they were wrong because realistically they need to go 28-14 for the rest of their games to even have a chance at an 8 seed. And their next 3 games are Memphis, Utah and OKC. All 3 are losable games so 28-11 the rest of the way is highly probable.

  40. Sea Pea says:

    I don’t know who pulled the trigger on Mike Brown and Bernie Bickerstaff but that person is to blame. Better go get Jerry Sloan or somebody and prepare for next season.

  41. big cat says:

    one of the best coaches in nba history , surprised he hasn’t found a job , he’d be good on the bucks or phoenix who have interims at the moment , I believe the lakers would’ve hired him if it weren’t for the big baby Dwight being there

  42. iOWNdMANguardingME says:

    very well said Stan..I think the Lakers push the panic button to early..they should have stick to Mike Brown and wait for
    the team to have chemistry and to gel..Maybe it is just so hard to be an LA team with all the pressure surrounding you..(fans and the management)

  43. lol says:

    I love seeing lakers squirm for that last playoff spot that is getting further and further away.

    • Run says:

      Ikr, and the funniest thing is, we get to watch them get stomped on more on broadcast channels. U know, come to think of it, have they ever won 1 on air this season? If not, I’m shocked and surprised. If they have, I’m still shocked and surprised cuz they’re still terrible this year.

  44. How did this happen? says:

    To be honest about it, Brown was the answer from the beginning. I remember him talking about the Laker “Bigs” a few years back when they had bynum and gasol. He knew exactly what he was talking about and he knew how to use them. So what if the Lakers lost their pre-season games. It does not count toward playoff time. Who’s gonna remember that? Brown just needed more time with the team and he didnt get that. 5 games into the season when they were just 1-4. They managed to turn it around anyways. Ended up at one point being 6-5. D’Antoni was not the answer, a new coach was not the answer, the answer was simply time.

  45. uriel says:

    The are many teams that will be good for for coach Stan Van Gundy. The NBA in general needs more Coaches like him: Honest, go-to the -point, Efficient.

  46. Dean says:

    Watching this old interview I am still amazed at how rude Howard is just barging into the interview. The Magic owe Van Gundy his job back, but if I was him I’d reply with a kind “heck no”. Plenty of teams could use him right now with all the coach firings, I’m sure we’ll see him back coaching soon.

  47. Srikanth says:


  48. Duane Murrill says:

    I think that Mr. Van Gundy is exactly on point. The Lakers have chemistry problems and they should have given Coach Brown the opportunity………. The team is a mess and management made it that way.

    • Gregory Morton says:

      Dead on. Mike Brown should have been given a chance.

      • BJ says:

        I totally agree. Van Gundy is absolutely correct. They should have let Mike Brown go the whole season and see what he does. instead they fire him after 4 losses into the season and then hire D’antoni and his record is worse than Browns now. why havent they fired him? please man…. the lakers are a joke and I hope the Clippers win the Championship with Barnes an Odom on their team.

        show the Lakers what chemistry and SHOWTIME is….. thats why they have Magic doing commericals with Chris Paul. I love that commerical! LOL.

      • Scott The Magician says:

        yes he should have and lets not forget that D12…the best big man in the world is getting 7 shots per game……..
        its sickeneing to watch him run up and down the floor with ZERO touches. such a waste.
        I hope he leaves LA next season