Last night, while watching the Magic take on the Cavaliers, I was not only impressed by the way Dwight Howard and his squad were able to turn the game around, but I was most impressed by Stan Van Gundy's excellent coaching.
Thanks to modern technology, NBA fans are able to hear head coaches speaking with their teams during games, and the motivation and strategy that came out of Van Gundy's mouth was superb.
The Magic head coach reminded his players that they couldn't catch up to the Cavaliers' monstrous lead earned in the first half in a mere five minutes' time. It was going to take a little while, possession by possession. That's all they had to do, Van Gundy told his team, proving Shaq wrong.
Van Gundy will no longer be referred to as the "master of panic". He has proved that he's actually quite the opposite—a coach with the ability to stay calm and initiate the turnaround.
Stan Van pointed out the fact that the Magic have been tested and the Cavaliers haven't. A big ego is enough to get in the way, as we all attested to last night. "They don't know about this—we do," the Magic head coach told his players in the huddle.
Moments later, the blue and white proved that was true.
When the Magic went down by 15 at halftime, without sound leadership, things were going to get really bad, really fast. A fired up Van Gundy told his players they were being LeBron's "witnesses", a mock reference to a Nike ad in which LeBron's fans are portrayed as the worshipping "witnesses" of King James.
"Right there, that brought the fire out of us," Dwight Howard told reporters.
Clearly, the Orlando Magic are no joke. It's up to Van Gundy to continue to lite a fire under his players and utilize the plays that will give them an opportunity to beat the Cavaliers. It is truly possible that the Magic can win a championship this season, and Van Gundy has shown that they're not afraid of the Cavaliers.
Here's to a coach who I knew was elite all along. It actually surprises me that the media took Shaq's critique of Van Gundy seriously, anyway. It's always about drama on ESPN, it seems. Regardless of the reason the "master of panic" nickname survived for so long, Van Gundy will continue to become a driving force in coaching in NBA basketball.
All Magic fans should be happy to have him as head coach in Orlando and give him the respect he truly deserves.