BOSTON - MAY 28: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic reacts as he coaches against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 28, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Rob Peterson of NBA FanHouse, filling in for Bethlehem Shoals in this morning's The Works column with Tom Ziller, writes that the feud between Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and Miami Heat president Pat Riley would make for some great dinner theater. He says if he could invite four people, "past or present," to dinner, Riley and Van Gundy would certainly make the guest list. Their strained relationship made headlines on Friday when Riley pasted Van Gundy, among others, for criticizing the Heat this summer. Through the Magic's official website, Van Gundy responded over the weekend, which then brings us to Peterson's dinner-party scenario.
Now that conceit may sound silly to you, but Peterson's a skilled writer who manages to make some interesting points with it. Such as this one:
This is a fight, however, Van Gundy can't win no matter how right he is or how right he believes he is. It's a matter of public relations and public perception. As incredible and as honest as he is with the press, Van Gundy comes off as the classic shlumpy grinder. He's a guy who bends the game to his will with an impeccable white board and unassailable basketball mind.
He then contrasts Van Gundy's public persona to Riley's--"he has five rings as a head coach, all achieved in bespoke suits without breaking a sweat"--to illustrate the deep divide between the two men. And then he applies that contrast to a hypothetical about Van Gundy's ability to appeal to LeBron James and Chris Bosh, as Riley did in free agency this summer.