Monday, December 12, 2005

Stan Van Gundy Out In Miami

Well, it happened.  Pat Riley is back as the Miami Heat's head coach after Stan Van Gundy resigned for personal reasons.  Iguess Kobe and Shaq are now even [2 apiece] on coaches who quit on their watch.  Here is the article....

MIAMI -- Pat Riley is again the coach of the Miami Heat, replacing Stan Van Gundy following his resignation Monday for family reasons.

Riley, whom Van Gundy succeeded on the bench shortly before the 2003-04 season, will make his debut Tuesday night when Miami opens a four-game road trip in Chicago.

"I will get back into this quickly," said Riley, the team president. He said he hasn't even looked at a playbook for two years.

Riley coached the team from 1995-03 after winning four titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and a stint with the New York Knicks.

Players were not available for immediate comment. The team left for Chicago on Monday, shortly before the news conference announcing the shake-up.

Van Gundy said he resigned voluntarily.

"I made this decision for one reason and one reason only: I love my family," Van Gundy said. He said that because of travel, games and practices, he would have seen his children at home only 49 days out of 170 this season.

Van Gundy said he first approached Riley about stepping down six weeks ago after the opening win at Memphis. He told the Heat players of his decision Monday morning.

"For six weeks I tried to convince him to stay on," Riley said.

Riley's eyes welled with tears as Van Gundy announced the reasons for his decision.

"It came down to a choice, and for me, the choice was clear," Van Gundy said.

He said he will remain in the organization, and insisted he had no desire to coach elsewhere.

Van Gundy's job status had been the subject of speculation in South Florida for months, starting when Riley -- his mentor -- said shortly after the Heat's 2005 playoff run ended that he decide to take a larger role in the team's day-to-day operations.

That comment, which seemed innocuous at the time, set off a storm of speculation that Riley was planning to dismiss Van Gundy and take over a team with two of the NBA's biggest stars, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.

Riley and Van Gundy eventually met for nearly four hours in mid-July. Van Gundy emerged from that session saying he was assured that he'd remain Heat coach.

The team has struggled in its first 21 games, going only 11-10, albeit without O'Neal for 18 of them while the 12-time All-Star nursed a sprained right ankle. It wasn't the start anybody expected from a team built to contend for an NBA championship.

The 46-year-old Van Gundy left with a regular-season record of 112-73. Riley has won 1,110 games in 21 seasons as a coach, plus led the "Showtime" Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He also coached the Knicks (1991-95).

Van Gundy was Riley's top assistant for eight seasons, getting the job shortly before the 2003-04 campaign when Riley walked into his office unexpectedly and told him he was stepping aside.

And just as suddenly, Van Gundy is now gone, hours after leading the Heat to an overtime win over Washington on Sunday night.

Before coming to the Heat, Van Gundy had college stints at Vermont, Castleton State, Canisius, Fordham, UMass-Lowell and Wisconsin. When Riley joined the Heat, Van Gundy came with him in large part because his brother, Jeff, was under contract to the New York Knicks and couldn't stay on Riley's staff.

His first season as head coach didn't get off to a good start, with the Heat losing Van Gundy's first seven games. But with Wade leading a talented nucleus of young players, Miami finished that season 42-40 and as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

And that summer, Riley sent three players to Los Angeles for O'Neal, who had been part of three championships with the Lakers. Van Gundy coached the Heat to a second consecutive season of a 17-win improvement, getting them to 59-23 and guiding them to the Southeast Division title and to the East finals.

Read the Miami Heat's official press release here:  HEAT: Stan Van Gundy Resigns as Head Coach

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the Heat win, watch Riley trying to take credit for Snaq being 7'1".