Van Gundy: Sloan's Departure Bad and Sad for the NBA
"It's not good for the league, and it's not good for the (coaching) profession,'' Van Gundy said Friday after his team's morning practice. "It's a sad thing all around.''
Van Gundy, like most everyone else in the game, expressed his unending admiration and respect for the most tenured coach in major professional sports, but he disagreed with the popular theory that Sloan was driven out by Jazz point guard Deron Williams.
"I would be absolutely shocked if this was a case of a player running a coach out. I don't think you could run Jerry Sloan out of Utah. There is just too much respect there,'' Van Gundy said. "I'd also be shocked if the front office ran him out, or even suggested he get out. Unless they (front office personnel) are lying through their teeth, they wanted him to stay.''
Van Gundy's theory is that Sloan just got tired -- of the job, of dealing with the constant internal conflicts with players that are just part of the job.
"What surprises me is, not that it got to the point where he didn't want to do it anymore, but that it took this long -- 23 years. My God, that's unfathomable. I hate seeing all the speculation from people who have no clue. How about the possibility that he just said `I'm tired. I'd tired of all this.' It's a tough lifestyle. Twenty three years is a long time.''
Van Gundy, like most NBA coaches, has had his share of player/coach conflicts. And he is not known as a player's coach, but hard-driving career coach with strong opinions on the way things should be done. He coached Shaquille O'Neal in Miami, and Van Gundy resigned early in his second season with the dominating center.
He is in his fourth season with the Magic, and he had center Dwight Howard have had their disagreements, especially when Howard has been flexing his muscle as the franchise foundation.
"There are always personality conflicts in this business. We're in an intense environment. Competitive people are going to have personality conflicts. It happens all the time,'' he said. "It's not a matter of getting along, or if somebody likes you. It's way too simplistic to blame it on a player. We butt heads (with players) all the time. It's the nature of the business. How about it just got to the point where you say `I don't want to do this anymore.' It doesn't make anyone a bad guy.''