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Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Should Magic Call on Donovan Mentor Pitino?

There aren't many coaches on the NBA scrap heap who can produce the sort of buzz --- shortlived as it was --- that Billy Donovan did for the Magic in his three days as coach.
There is one coach, however, who could wipe away most of the Donovan discord: His mentor, Rick Pitino.
Ironically, Pitino counseled Donovan over the wacky weekend, either encouraging him to remain the Magic's coach --- or just acting as a big-brother sounding board.
Pitino is apparently very happy back in Kentucky, only as the coach at Louisville.
But don't the Magic have to at least try to call on Pitino or another "big name."
Pitino has pizazz. He's just 54. He is Billy Donovan all grown up --- and with better hair. He has been there on the NBA front lines, having coached the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics. He had a decent run with the Knicks, but bombed in Boston, and that apparently was a harsh reminder for him to say he belonged in the colllege game.
But who knows what Pitino might say now?
In Boston, Pitino had a lot of bad luck, missing out on Tim Duncan in the lottery, despite all the Celtics' losses. If he gets Duncan, we are talking about Pitino with reverance as he shows off his rings.
He might not be Duncan, but Dwight Howard could give Pitino a head start in Orlando.
Nothing against Stan Van Gundy, rumored to be Donovan's replacement. Fine coach, terrific guy.
But his arrival, especially after Orlando fans were run over by the Donovan emotional rollercoaster, doesn't quite excite the masses.
So don't the Magic have to go trolling again for that big fish --- even if it's back in the college ranks? Tom Izzo, anyone?
An aside: Pitino, frustrated after a Celtics' loss in 2000, addressed the media with a diatribe that has become lore and legend:
"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when Yastrzemski was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team."


  • At 3:49 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Hey i guess i cant hurt to see if he's interested in the job,this is my all time favorite coach,he led my wildcats like no other,and everything the kid knew he learned from him.

  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    I'm just glad there's something else to talk about,i have not one ounce of respect for the kid so i'm not gonna waste anymore of my time on him in this forum.

  • At 4:32 PM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Van Gundy close to Magic offer

    By Ira Winderman
    Posted June 4 2007, 9:56 AM EDT

    Former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy is the on the verge of being offered the opportunity to coach the Orlando Magic, after the team received second thoughts from Billy Donovan.

    Van Gundy, who was interviewed by the Magic just prior to the interview that led to Donovan being hired last week, declined to comment on a potential Orlando opportunity.Van Gundy said he left last Wednesday's interview in Orlando feeling comfortable with the Magic situation.

    "I thought the interview went well," he said Monday morning.

    The Magic, already in scramble mode amid Donovan's second thoughts about leaving the University of Florida, could find itself having to move quickly with Van Gundy.

    Van Gundy met Saturday in Las Vegas with the Sacramento Kings' ownership and management.

    "I thought the interview went well and I expect to hear something from them today," he said from his Miami-area home. "It won't necessarily be a decision, but I do expect to hear from Geoff (Petrie, the Kings president) today."

    Van Gundy last week expressed interest in the Orlando job, both because of the team's potential, as well as the proximity that would keep him near his parents, who live in Miami, and his wife's mother, who lives in Lake Mary.

    Van Gundy has been in contact with Donovan during the Magic's interview process and the unlikely possibility of him joining a Donovan Magic coaching staff even was mentioned during Donovan's introductory media session Friday.

    Van Gundy also has interviewed for coaching vacancies in Charlotte and Indiana. The Bobcats elected to hire former Mavericks assistant coach Sam Vincent, while Van Gundy opted to bypass an offer from the Pacers, who last week hired former Celtics and 76ers coach Jim O'Brien.

    Because of the family concerns that led him to leave as Heat coach in December 2005, Van Gundy said stability and quality of life would factor into his future plans. Van Gundy was raised just outside of Sacramento.

    Van Gundy is under contract as a Heat consultant through June 2008, but Pat Riley said last month that Van Gundy is free to leave for another coaching position. Van Gundy has kept Riley informed of his options and interviews throughout these past four weeks.

    Van Gundy joined the Heat as an assistant coach on Sept. 20, 1995, and took over from Riley as coach on Oct. 24, 2003. He left as Heat coach December 12, 2005, citing family reasons, after recording a 112-73 record in his two-plus seasons as coach.

    Ira Winderman can be reached at iwinderman@sun-sentinel.com

  • At 4:40 PM, Blogger tdawg said…

    I think Pitino got a raw deal in Boston.

    With the expection of one season, Boston has sucked since Bird and McHale left. And who doesn't want to hear Pitino rant after a loss that, "Shaq, Penny, and McGrady are not walking through that door."

  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger WeRDevos said…

    It might come down to SVG vs. P.J. Carlesimo.

    That makes me an SVG fan.

  • At 9:53 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said…

    Pitino apparently told Donovan that Orlando would be a good situation. After his hideous experience in Boston, though, I doubt he'd want to come back to the NBA.

    Stan Van Gundy should be our next target.

  • At 12:41 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    Gators' people can be giddy as they want to be, but this is the end of Donovan as a potential coach in the NBA and even the end of being a legend in college basketball. This was not a coercion. He as a mature adult signed a contract and should have been manly enough to honor it. I, although reluctantly, like to use the term that got famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, GIRLY MAN.

  • At 4:37 AM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    I, too, lost a lot of respect for Billy Donovan. If he wasn't 100% sure that he wanted to coach the Magic, he never should have signed the contract.

    Charles Barkley on PTI on ESPN Monday said that Donovan is making a mistake by going back to FL, because basically there is not much else Donovan could accomplish in college; but if he had coached the Magic to the NBA championship, he would have been known as one of the all-time greatest coaches ever.

    Sure, Donovan would have had to adjust to the NBA style of play... guess he wasn't up for the challenge after all.

    I hope that the Magic can work things out with Stan Van Gundy now. As was pointed out by some of you guys, he set up the Heat team for success when Pat Riley was ready to return as their coach.

  • At 7:35 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    Exactly what Matt said. Donavan made a decision and signed a contract, now its time to man-up and honor it. The only place this guy would ever be welcome again is Gainsville, so I hope he's gonna be happy there for a long, long time because his name won't mean SHIT any place else. I also hope the Magic put the screws to him on this contract. Make him buy his way out of it. Lets see how bad he wants out. Make a example out of this douche bag.

  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger Whit Watson said…

    Matt -- thanks for the post on my blog. Figured I would copy my reply here, to foster more conversation:

    "Matt, I was wondering when you would sign in.

    First off -- and I don't think you'll disagree with this -- the Magic placed themselves in this position by allowing Brian Hill to twist in the wind for three weeks.

    Had the Magic fired Hill immediately after the season, they could have contacted Donovan three weeks earlier, which may have given BD more time to mull the offer and turn it down. Instead, the Magic were in a hurry, conveyed that to BD, and got a rushed answer. So this is partially the team's fault.

    HOWEVER, you cannot fault them for landing Donovan in the first place. They got the hottest coach in America to say "yes." They did their job, albeit late, and made a statement to their fans that they are serious about winning.

    I hold BD responsible only for not being totally honest with himself. He could have asked for more time, and chose not to. He's an adult, and that is his responsibility.

    Is he done in the NBA? Doubt it. If he stays at Florida and wins for four or five more years, somebody else will take a shot at him. Time must pass, but there will be some other team who thinks it can do it differently or better than the Magic did. It's the way of pro sports.

    But for the short term, BD has really damaged his own image nationally. An embarrassment all the way around."

    Whit Watson

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger Ken said…

    I agree with you Whit, that the Magic took waaay to long in deciding what to do with Hill. He should have been let go or reassigned right after game 4 with Detroit. However, I don't agree that the Magic made Billy Vanilli feel rushed into signing a contract that he wasn't ready to sign. How many times have we seen coaches drag teams on for weeks, even months while they examine their options from every conceivable angle? Billy Vanilli knew what he was doing. According to him, those around him even suggested this was a wonderful opportunity for him. Like I said in another thread on this blog page, I really think UF tampered in this somehow, and therefore convinced him to return to Gainsville. Of course, eventually he will be let out of this contract with the Magic, but I sure wouldn't make it easy for him. Sure, other pro teams my approach him eventually, but a strong stance and some sort of compensation to the Magic is still in order to send a message to other coaches who may try the same thing. I have no love for Gator Nation and would still seek advice from team attorneys on possible tampering charges... Just my .02 cents

  • At 7:40 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    Whit, I am still in China on a teaching assignment, and have very little time to spare. I agree with your assertions that this falls on Donovan and is no fault of Magic at this time if they rushed an answer. Granted had they not waited that long for firing Hill it could have created a better environment, but you can't blame them for the mistake of an adult having a few days to not only make a decision but to put his John Hancock on a contract. It is not a matter of life and death and one typically consults with a few close confidents to make a decision. Of course, when there is any doubt one would never allow it to reach to the level of signing a contract.

    Would Donovan ever be trusted with any commitment? May be, but the man showed no character and integrity, and it would be hard for anybody to place any trust in him in the near future.


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