Stan Van Gundy can call his real estate agent to tell him his house will not be on the market for another three years as the Orlando Magic head coach has received a new contract extension lasting him through the 2012-2013 season. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Van Gundy has at least a three year deadline to produce an NBA Champion.
Van Gundy has put the Magic back on the map and has coached the franchise into becoming perennial NBA title contenders. Van Gundy has had steady success with the franchise since his arrival in 2007. Going from the Eastern Conference Semifinals in his first season(2007) to making the franchise’s 2nd NBA Finals appearance in 2009, Van Gundy oppose to the initial hire Billy Donovan seems like the essential fit to guide the evolution of this version of the Orlando Magic. Van Gundy has posted a record of 170-76 and has won three straight Southeast Division titles. This three year stretch also includes a 28-20 postseason and has won a total of six playoffs series, with an Eastern Conference Championship under his belt.
But can Van Gundy finish the mission and elevate this team’s status to NBA champions? Known for his mercurial style of coaching, “The Master of Panic” as labeled by Shaquille O’Neil (one oh his former players), needs to take the Magic to the next level to join the rankings of other elite franchises and coaches in the NBA. With the best center in the league in Dwight Howard anchoring this squad filled with all-stars and high quality role players that would be possible starters for other clubs, the Magic are legitimate perennial Larry O’Brien favorites. Though it wasn’t long ago that Van Gundy worked for that other NBA franchise in Florida and had a plethora of all-star talent as well, but could not get over the hump as the head man in charge. Now, he has more credibility as a coach than he did in Miami, and he doesn’t have a Hall of Famer former head coach acting as the team’s General Manager and President of Operations looking over his shoulders, salivating to coach a potential greatest of all-time type of team. He also has more time with this three year extension, but will he make great use of this extended stay in the Magic Kingdom?
Van Gundy heads the list of 2nd tier class coaches in the NBA, alongside Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan, and Byron Scott just to name a few. Will Van Gundy become this generation’s George Karl of coaches? The other 2nd tier coaches have had their share of opportunities, but Van Gundy by far has had the best make-up of championship caliber talent. We all know Karl should have had at least two NBA Championships on his resume by now, but lacked that ability to motivate his teams to that championship level that special coaches elevate their ball clubs to. I believe coaches, like players should never lose recognition for being great depending on how many titles they have won, but thats how they are judged, so Van Gundy has three years to begin his ascension into the upper echelon of head coaches, or forever be known as “The Master of Panic.”
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Written by Arthur Kai