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  Tue, November 11, 2003


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Is this fun or what?
Jeff and Stan Van Gundy both know how hard coaching can be

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

O brother, where art thou?

If you're Jeff Van Gundy, your Houston Rockets (4-1) are in first place in the Midwest Division.

If you're Stan Van Gundy, your Miami Heat (0-6) is in last place in the Atlantic Division.

So, do you think Jeff will let Stan win tonight when the Heat visits the Rockets?

Well, brotherly love among coaches goes only so far.

Nonetheless, Jeff does feel sorry for Stan, who became the Heat's coach when Pat Riley resigned just before the start of the season.

"I feel like I have a 164-game season, playing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back," Jeff said, referring to his scoreboard-watching. "I'm worn out.

"Miami needs to get healthy, needs to get some size, or I'm going to break down by mid-season."

Now, the hyper-intense Jeff probably was going to break down by mid-season anyway, so that's not really news. But Stan could be a candidate for a breakdown fairly soon unless the Heat gets healthy and starts competing better.

"This will be done my way, win or lose," Stan said when he took over. Hindsight is 20/20, but he might want to find a way to spread some of the blame around.

Stan obviously did not take over under the best of circumstances. On that very subject, Riley recently felt the need to respond to the widely held notion that he abandoned a sinking ship just before it went under.

"I can't put aside the perception," said Riley, who insisted he is not looking for another coaching job and will remain the Heat's president through to the end of next season. "What happens is the perception eventually becomes everybody's reality.

"Sometimes you can't do things that just absolutely are going to be convenient to other people. But I was very clear as to why I did it. I still believe it. In the long run, in the best interest of the team, it needed another voice out on the court. I strongly believed that and I do today.

"I deserve the right to be happy, just like anybody else."

No one associated with the Heat has the right to be happy.

And speaking of not being happy, Stan and Jeff's parents have not been looking forward to this evening, even though their sons will become only the second set of head-coaching brothers to face each other in an NBA game (Larry and Herb Brown did it back in the 1970s).

"(Today) will not be a nice day for Cindy and me," papa Bill Van Gundy said.

We're betting that deep down, Bill and Cindy -- and maybe even Jeff, just a little bit -- will be cheering for Stan tonight.

He needs it more.

TV'S A BREEZE

It took a talented Rockets roster that includes cornerstones Steve Francis and Yao Ming to lure Jeff Van Gundy away from the broadcast booth and back to the sidelines. Even though there are some things Van Gundy misses about being a TV commentator, he doesn't appear to have much respect for the profession.

Asked to describe his TV routine, Van Gundy said, "Arrive an hour and a half (before the game), go out there, wing it, get half right, half wrong, go back to the hotel.

"There are nights when I ask myself why I left. There's a sacrifice that goes with it. Why you would do that, I often question myself. I just enjoy the competition and camaraderie of a team.

"Coaching, it's not fun. It's often rewarding. Sometimes, many times, very frustrating. But there is that pull. I never heard any coach say, 'I just miss the fun of coaching.' "

George Karl, who is doing TV work now after being fired by the Milwaukee Bucks last summer, wants to get back into coaching, too, but he had a slightly different view on the fun element.

"This (broadcasting) is a lot easier," Karl said. "Not as much fun, but a lot easier."

Easy or not, fun or not, Riley won't be providing colour commentary any time soon.

"I categorically do not want to do television," Riley said.

Too bad. He already has the hair and the wardrobe for it.

DEKE OF THE WEEK

Already there has been friction between New York Knicks centre Dikembe Mutombo and coach Don Chaney.

Reporters sensed a frustrated tone in Mutombo's voice when he responded to a query about his playing time by saying, "I have no control over coaching situations." Mutombo later tried to say he didn't mean anything by it.

"It wasn't anything negative," Mutombo said. "This talk about Mutombo not being happy, what do you want me to say, that I should check myself into the game?"

Whatever Mutombo meant, Chaney was irritated by the mere subject.

"I mentioned to (Mutombo) there will be nights where he won't be able to start or even play," Chaney said.

"He's not the most mobile guy. He's (7-foot-2) and he can't run with a smaller unit. What am I supposed to do?"

The betting here is the Raptors are going to be increasingly relieved that their courting of Mutombo was unsuccessful.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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