The Orlando Magic will play in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight for the first time since 1996.
There are many intangibles that have molded the Magic as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, such as:
—Dwight Howard, in just two years, transforming into the best young big man in the NBA today.
—Otis Smith signing and trading for Rashard Lewis, who is proving he is worth every penny of his contract.
—Hedo Turkoglu playing with complete confidence since winning the NBA's most improved player award.
These three points can arguably be the most important stops on the path to success for Orlando.
One point, however, most people forget to include is the head coach, Stan Van Gundy.
A respectable NBA franchise consists of talented players to win games, an astute front office to bring the team together, and a head coach to teach and culminate a true NBA Championship contender.
The Orlando Magic have all of these qualities, despite the never ending controversy looming over head coach, Stan Van Gundy.
Van Gundy has been criticised ever since Shaquille O'Neal called him, "the master of panic", stating that his team will struggle in the postseason due to the so-called fear he puts in his team.
The verbal attacks continued from the likes of Marcin Gortat, and Dwight Howard, both players of his team. These team criticisms, however, have been resolved.
The second year Magic coach has been called, "A headline waiting to happen", and a "walking sound byte."
Despite this criticism, Stan Van Gundy has led the Orlando Magic to the best two seasons that they have witnessed in 14 years.
You see, Van Gundy was the best possible coaching choice for Orlando when they went shopping for a head man two summers ago.
When he was hired on June 8, 2007, Orlando fans were both anxious and saddened.
The morbidity of the situation was due to the change of heart that Billy Donovan put on the Magic when he accepted and then later rejected the head coaching job.
Turns out, Van Gundy has been a complete success, despite what critics might say.
The Indio, California native uses his emotion and relies on it to motivate his team. He has more passion and color than controversy. He also brings attention to the Magic, a team lacking some needed attention and praise for some time.
He took the Orlando head coaching job when the Magic were very dysfunctional. They had a young, non-developed Dwight Howard, along with controversy relating to the newly acquired Rashard Lewis and the amount of money on his contract.
The 49 year old decided to move Rashard Lewis to the power forward position, an incredibly witty decision. This move created matchup problems for the opposing team every time the Magic take the court.
Van Gundy also, with the help of assistant head coach, Patrick Ewing, have developed big man Dwight Howard into the best young center in the game today. In two years, Howard has increased his points per game by nearly three, and throughout his career he has increased his points per game by more than eight.
Van Gundy has quickly used his coaching skills and powerful will to Orlando's advantage.
Stan Van Gundy has, whether critics agree, transformed this Orlando team, in just two years, into an Eastern Conference, and an NBA championship contender.
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