Rivers, Van Gundy Lament Fate of Conquered Coaches
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Coaches Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy naturally were happy to have reached the Eastern Conference final -- a little relieved, too -- but neither was happy about what happened to their peers with the teams they beat to get here.
It's just part of the profession.
Atlanta, swept by the Orlando Magic in the second round, already has severed ties with coach Mike Woodson, previously the longest tenured coach in the East.
Cleveland, upset by the Boston Celtics in the other conference semifinal, appears to be on the verge of firing coach Mike Brown. At least one media outlet has reported that the decision already has been made.
"It says either Stan, or I, had better be looking for a new address after this series,'' said Rivers Sunday afternoon before Game 1 against the Magic. "Actually, it's sad. Look at what Mike did in Atlanta, where he took that team from when he took over to where it is now. And look at Mike's record in Cleveland. It's unfortunate.''
Woodson lasted six seasons in Atlanta, opening with a 13-win season in 2005. The win total improved in each of the next five seasons. They won 53 games this season, and they reached the second round of the playoffs in each of the last two years.
Yet the disastrous sweep by the Magic overshadowed much of what he accomplished.
In Cleveland, Brown won 66 games last season. He won 61 games this season, more than anyone else for two consecutive seasons. Yet he lost to the Magic in the conference final last year. And he lost to the Celtics last week in the semifinal round.
"It's amazing how you can go from smart to dumb in 6-7 days,'' Van Gundy said. "Mike Woodson was pretty smart, then seven days later he was an idiot. Mike Brown won 70 percent of his games, and all of a sudden, he doesn't know what he's doing. It's amazing.''
Like Rivers, Van Gundy was shaking his head at the way their profession works in such a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mode.
Failing to live up to expectation can be a killer when it comes to keep your job. Rivers was fired in Orlando after four seasons, but he went on to win an NBA title in Boston. Van Gundy was fired in Miami after fewer than three seasons, but now has become the favorite to win a title in Orlando.
"I'm pretty smart right now,'' Van Gundy said. "But if we don't win this series, I'll be like every other coach who's lost. I'll be the biggest idiot in the world.''