Stan Van Gundy on Pat Riley's Possible Coaching Return
Erik Spoelstra, long-time Heat assistant, just finished his second season as Miami's head coach.
"I feel bad for Erik, knowing what will happen now, an offseason of speculation on whether or not Pat will coach,'' Van Gundy said. "It will make it tough on him. So I feel bad for him.''
Riley's pronouncement hit especially close to home for Van Gundy because it was Riley who hired him to coach the Heat in 2003, then dumped him early in the 2005-06 season when he decided to coach again.
"I guess what you could say is that he [Riley] is an NBA lifer, so it's interesting to contemplate,'' Stern said. "I visited with him in Miami [as the team president] and he looked great. He looked calm, rested and happy.''
Riley took the Heat to the NBA title in 2006 but coached only two more seasons before hiring Spoelstra to follow him.
"Did I see this coming?'' Van Gundy repeated the question. "No, I didn't, but I don't get surprised by much anymore. That's entirely up to him [Riley]. I just feel bad for Erik.''
Van Gundy also took the time to come to the defense of Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, who was fired Tuesday after his second season with the Bulls. Del Negro won 41 games in each of his two seasons, but his Bulls were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both seasons.
"I thought Vinny did a damn good job. Maybe they [Bulls management] thought their talent was a lot greater than what I saw,'' Van Gundy said before Game 1 of the series between the Magic and Atlanta Hawks. "I thought they competed hard every night and did a great job developing their young guys. I'm not surprised because I heard the rumors, but he did a very good job there.''