Posts Tagged ‘Mike Bianchi’

Howard, Van Gundy Join Forces Again … For Seminole County School System

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Their names will be linked in Orlando sports lore forever, former Magic superstar center Dwight Howard and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

But it won’t always be about their messy divorce and departure from the Magic. On at least one account, the former player and coach will come together to help bolster the future for students in the Orlando area, the Seminole County School system to be exact.

It turns out that Howard and Van Gundy do have a common interest outside of winning a Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Diametrically opposed on so many issues, Howard and Van Gundy are political allies (the combatants in contests across the nation in this election year need to take notice) when it comes to helping preserve the property tax base that helps fund the school system.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel informed us all of this rather intriguing arrangement between these two men:

If you read my column last week, you know Van Gundy is the chairman of a political group in Seminole County called Citizens for Preservation of Property Values. The goal of the group is to increase property taxes in Seminole County to help preserve the area’s traditionally strong public school system — a system that has been decimated by $73 million in budget cuts over the past five years. In the Nov. 6 general election, Seminole voters will decide whether to approve a 1-mill increase in property taxes for four years beginning a year from now. The increase would bring in as much as $25 million annually to the school district.

Van Gundy says Dwight, who was recently traded to the Lakers, is going to lend some financial backing  to the cause.

“Dwight has pledged his support,” Van Gundy said Monday during an interview on our Open Mike radio show on 740 The Game. “He’s a resident of Seminole County, and he’s keeping his house here. I think his history will show that he’s had great concern for kids in the Central Florida community. With him still living here, we asked him to help and he didn’t hesitate.”

Surprisingly to some, both Stan and Dwight say they are on good terms and have been communicating regularly over the last several weeks. Van Gundy even texted Howard and wished him good luck after he was traded to L.A.


(Jeff) Van Gundy Blasts Howard, Magic

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — And you thought we were done with the Dwight Howard-and-the-Magic mess.

Not if Jeff Van Gundy has anything to say about it, and did he ever on Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi‘s radio show the other day. The former coach and current ESPN analyst lit into the Magic for pandering to Howard and his wishes, suggesting that there is some sort of agreement between Magic brass and Howard to out his brother, Stan Van Gundy, down the line.

He made sure to mention that his opinions are all his own and that he doesn’t discuss the Magic with his brother before telling Bianchi:

“To me, only the most gullible fans would believe that this was about loyalty,” Jeff said of Dwight’s decision. “I think it was about power and control. … I don’t know what they agreed to, but anybody who doesn’t think senior management and Howard have come to an agreement on either trading players to get people he (Dwight) likes or changing the coach or changing the general manager or changing the marketing of him. … Whatever they agreed to, there’s been an agreement made.

“… What the Magic senior executives are doing right now is unbecoming. The groveling and begging is hard to read and watch. His (Dwight’s) opinion should matter, but the strong organizations stand for something rather than fall for anything.”

Uh, where do we begin with this nonsense?

If the Magic are beholding to Howard in the ways that Jeff Van Gundy believes, what would be the need for some secret agreement? Howard could have ordered the Magic to send Stan Van Gundy packing (as well as GM Otis Smith, too) and start fresh now rather than wait until, what, next season?

Laughing off the loyalty theme Howard played up during his news conference announcing his sticking with Orlando for another season is predictable as well. But when did these things become about anything other than power and control? When the players have it (and the true superstars almost always do), it’s an issue.

Bottom line? If Howard had an issue with Stan Van Gundy that might have caused him to leave town, the Magic coach probably would have been fired a long time ago if that’s what it took to keep Howard happy and in Orlando.

And finally, if my brother decided to criticize my bosses, the organization that employs me and the star player who has helped put food on my table and secure my family’s future without discussing it with me, that next family dinner would include some serious fireworks.

Van Gundy: Was Pippen All That?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Oh, Scottie Pippen. You knew this was going to eventually happen as soon as you opened that can of worms.

Pippen, of course, stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy earlier in the playoffs when he offered his opinion that Michael Jordan was the greatest scorer of all time, but that LeBron James might become the greatest player ever.

First Magic Johnson and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and then Oscar Robertson, among others, questioned Pippen’s judgment in making such a pronouncement.

But now the plain-spoken, always-provocative Stan Van Gundy is questioning Pippen’s credentials as a player.

Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi on his “Open Mike” radio show, the Magic coach pulled no punches:

“I have always wondered, as good as Scottie Pippen was, would he have been considered a star if he hadn’t played with Jordan and had to carry a team on his own,” Van Gundy explained. “We’ll never know, but my point is that sometimes we make the determination after the fact. In other words, after Chicago won championships, we branded Pippen a star.”


Should Nick be tossing bricks?

There are plenty of folks who can still rightly point fingers at the retiring Shaquille O’Neal for taking a handful of potential championship banners with him when he left Orlando back in 1996.

But Nick Anderson isn’t one of them. Not as long as the 0-for-4 memory of Nick the Brick in 1995 lives on.

Anderson joined the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi on his radio show to lament the day that Shaq flew the coop:

“I was sitting at my home in Chicago watching the Olympics (in 1996) when a special bulletin came on and I happened to see the Big Fella (Shaq) holding a (Lakers) jersey standing next to Jerry West,” Anderson remembers. “I fell off the couch. Two minutes later, my phone rang and it was my dad calling to say, ‘You know, your championships just went to L.A.’ And how right he was. They (those championships) left and went to L.A.”

Of course, what Anderson did not re-live and lament was his own classic gaffe in Game 1 of the 1995 Finals that might well have altered the course of NBA history.

To refresh:

  • Anderson and Shaq’s Magic entered The Finals matchup against the Rockets which was considered a toss-up by oddsmakers.
  • The Magic built a 20-point lead in the second quarter, then squandered virtually all of that lead coming down the stretch.
  • With Orlando up by three, Anderson went to the foul line twice in the final 10.5 seconds of regulation and proceeded to miss four straight free throws when any one of them would have iced the game.
  • Kenny Smith then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, tying it up and the Rockets won in overtime on a Hakeem Olajuwon tip-in.
  • The Magic were demoralized, depressed and never able to bounce back, getting swept 4-0 by Houston.

Clink! Clank! Clunk! Crash!

Though it rarely makes the lists of infamy, it can be argued that Nick the Brick’s four pas was the biggest choke job in sports history.