(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
This post sponsored by adidas.
When it comes to memorable hairstyles, be they on top of the head or framing the face, the Orlando Magic find themselves wanting, despite their 23-year history, so when adidas approached your correspondent to write an essay on signature Magic hairstyles, he found himself at a loss.
Orlando's best players--Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Anfernee Hardaway--haven't ever had a hairstyle to call their own. The players they've had with such memorable style--Ben Wallace's afro, Shammond Williams' pin curls--developed it either before or after joining the Magic. And though the team vowed to grow beards for its 2011 playoff run, complete with the slogan "fear the beard," it simply didn't last long enough to make an impression. The Atlanta Hawks ousted the Magic in the first round of the playoffs after just six games.
But it became clear, after a bit of reflection, the best hair in Magic history didn't belong to a player, but rather a coach: Stan Van Gundy, whose mustache defines him almost as much as his basketball acumen does.
Van Gundy arrived in Orlando in 2007 with that mustache, and his style contrasts sharply with that of the men he replaced: Billy Donovan, whom Orlando hired first before he backed out of his agreement and re-joined the Florida Gators, has a more traditional look. He's clean-shaven, with jet-black hair he slicks back. Brian Hill, the Magic's coach in the two seasons before Van Gundy took over, never rocked a beard or mustache and styled his hair with gel, not entirely unlike Donovan.
So Van Gundy stands out. He's bold, both with what comes out of his mouth and what rests atop it. And as basketball lends itself to individual expression more than any other team sport, it follows that it's more important to cultivate a unique style in hoops than in any other team sport. Van Gundy, more than any of his charges, embodies that style.
And today, Orlando Pinstriped Post salutes him.