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Stan Van Gundy has finally publicly unleashed a fury of angry remarks about Heat President Pat Riley. The Orlando Magic head coach just happened to take five years to do it.
Magic GM Otis Smith said earlier this summer he thought James was “more of a competitor” than someone who would opt to play alongside an established team leader (Dwyane Wade). Riley on Friday via a conference call with several media outlets called that “an absolutely stupid remark":
"I thought it was pretty typical,” Van Gundy told OrlandoMagic.com. “I was kind of amused by it, especially reading down through the interview. He goes into Charles Barkley, me and Otis and then says he doesn’t worry about what people say. Wait, you called the press conference, you went off...and you don’t care what people say? Clearly, he cares a great deal about what people say. I was laughing when I saw that. You have a different opinion from Pat, then apparently its stupid."
Don’t forget Van Gundy was clearly pushed out of Miami back in 2005 after Riley decided to return as the team’s head coach. Van Gundy's reason for “resigning” was to spend more time with his family.
Meanwhile, he returned to the NBA and signed on with the Orlando Magic less than two years after his resignation in Miami, so his reasoning was clearly skewed. The more likely scenario was that Riley wanted to win another championship and at that point in time had the correct pieces on his roster to accomplish that.
Riley also had some words for NBA analyst Charles Barkley who referred to the way James’ handled free agency along with the Miami Heat’s glitzy celebration as “punk moves.”
“Charles Barkley, to me, went way, way, way over the top taking these personal attacks. Calling these guys a bunch of punks is a personal attack,” Riley said. “For him to say that is wrong.”
Van Gundy released a whole tank of frustration and anger after bottling it up for the last five years. Clearly, what Riley recently said pushed a button, but that’s not to say that Van Gundy went off solely because of this recent remark.
He had to have been fed up with Riley over the way he left Miami back in 2005. How could he not be?
The question still remains as to whether Riley will consider returning to the sidelines if the Heat don’t win it all this season with current head coach Erik Spoelstra. It would be a shame to see the past revisited with version 2.0 of Pat Returns.
I highly doubt it will happen. On the other hand, let’s say Wade and James were to endorse Riley’s return. Would he really turn those two icons down?
I don’t have an issue with the way that Pat is defending his team. This is his baby. He is the magician, the creator, and the Godfather of this star-studded team that has intimidated the rest of the league.
The opposition can talk all they want about how it's not going to work. Behind the scenes, however, they are worried. There is some fear there. And there should be.
“I know one thing: Our team will be ready”, Riley said. “And I think that’s the way we can answer all the critics.”