Happy Birthday, Stan Van Gundy

Today marks the 50th birthday of Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, arguably the best coach in the team's 20-year history. In the summer of 2007, Van Gundy took over a 40-42 outfit led by Brian Hill and immediately guided it to a 52-win season and a division championship (with a little help from free-agent signee Rashard Lewis). The team won 59 games in his second season, and then made a surprising (to people who weren't paying attention, anyway) run to the NBA Finals. Overall, the Van Gundy-coached Magic are 111-53 (.677) in the regular season and 18-16 (.529) in the postseason; those records are easily tops among coaches in franchise history.

And it's no coincidence that Hedo Turkoglu won the league's Most Improved Player award in his first season under Van Gundy, or that Jameer Nelson was one of its leading candidates before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in February. Dwight Howard, too, has taken great strides in improving his game, especially on the defensive end, which is Van Gundy's specialty.

So, happy 50th birthday, Stan. Many happy returns.

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