Stan Van Gundy knows all about ugly exits.
His days as coach of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat ended unceremoniously.
Van Gundy officially resigned from the Heat in December of 2005. Miami president Pat Riley slid into his seat to coach Shaquille O'Neal and D-Wade to Miami's first NBA title seven months later.
Van Gundy was booted from the Magic's kingdom as part of a Mickey Mouse effort to keep Dwight Howard in the 407. That didn't work. The Magic found themselves both minus their marquee coach and their best big man heading into this season.
Sound familiar, Celtics' fans?
How did it work out in Orlando after the name coach and best big man left town? The Magic were dead last in the NBA at 20-62 this past season and finished as the second-best NBA team in Florida, a mere 46 games behind the Heat.
Would Van Gundy want to follow Doc Rivers' footsteps in going from losing a job with the Magic to taking over the NBA's most storied franchise?
"You never know," he told the OBF blog Thursday. Van Gundy isn't ruling anything in or out these days. The Rivers-to-the-Clippers deal has been declared dead twice in the past three days.
As Van Gundy would say, "you never know."
Van Gundy said coming into a "rebuild" situation like Boston's would not be a concern for him. "It's not an issue of where the roster is. What you're looking for is a real agreement with management on the vision and values of the organization so that the way you think a team should be coached is the way the organization thinks it should be. I had that with [GM] Otis Smith in Orlando. It would have to be a thing where everything fits."
Van Gundy has grown comfortable living in Central Florida and said just last month he's turned down the possibility to interview for several NBA openings.
In a league full of worn-down, coaching retreads, having either Stan, or his brother Jeff, coaching in Boston would be like getting a set of shiny new Michelins. Both are tough, outspoken and unapologetic. Both have led teams to the brink of a title and are missing just one line on their resumes - that of NBA championship coach. Jeff Van Gundy wraps up his sixth season as NBA analyst for ESPN and ABC with Game 7 in Miami Thursday. Like his brother, he has not been shy about voicing his desire to coach again.
Massachusetts is familiar turf to Stan Van Gundy. He coached at UMass Lowell for four seasons 20-plus years ago. "I'm not a fan of the cold, but we loved it up there and enjoyed our time in Lowell."
If he enjoyed his time in Lowell, he'll love it in Boston.
Van Gundy, who lives in Central Florida about 15 miles north of Rivers, said Doc could still carry street cred coaching in Boston despite the fact that he publicly wanted to leave town and bail on the team as the Big Three/Four Era stumbled to a close.
Burning bridges and then walking a tightrope back home is nothing new for NBA players. Van Gundy said they would relate if their head coach did the same thing.
"Players have looked at other opportunities and decided where they want to be. They understand it," Van Gundy said. "Doc has enough credibility with players and he hasn't said anything bad about the Celtics organization. Danny Ainge has been a part of this, too. It would be awkward for the first month or two, maybe during training camp, after that Doc has enough credibility and he's a good enough coach where it will be fine."
For the fans and front office, it's a different story. "I understand that," he said. "It all depends on how good a job he does. The way you do cure that ill will is win some games."
The Magic beat the Celtics in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals under Van Gundy. It was another ignominious exit that opened the door for Van Gundy in Orlando. Billy Donovan accepted the Magic job and then resigned about 72 hours later, completing shortest reign of power this side of "Bill Belichick - Head Coach - New York Jets."
Van Gundy spoke Thursday after being honored with "The Floridian" award for his public service work helping public schools and the homeless by the "Open Mike" show on 740 AM The Game in Orlando. Your not-humble-enough correspondent was named "Open Mike" Caller of the Year.
Van Gundy fully appreciates Rivers' motivation for seeking greener pastures, even if they're colored in Clippers blue and red.
"Doc's at the point where he doesn't want to go through a rebuild," Van Gundy said. "A lot of it was driven by Boston, they realized they need to rebuild. This is an opportunity to get assets they otherwise would not get. The fact they can get two first round picks possibly in a rebuild, you can't beat that."
David Stern would probably disagree.
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