Van Gundy dangled the motivational carrot in Game 1
Finally, Stan Van Gundy is starting to get some credit for what he is:
One of the best coaches in the NBA.
His critics like Shaquille O'Neal have called him the "Master of Panic."
But really he is becoming the Master of Motivation.
We saw it Wednesday night when the Magic withstood 49 points from LeBron James and shocked the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
There was one point when Van Gundy, who wore a microphone during the game, implored his team to call upon their tough experiences during these playoffs. He pointed out how the Magic have been tested; the Cavs haven't.
"They don't know about this -- we do!" Van Gundy told his players in a huddle.
And with the Magic down by 15 at halftime, Van Gundy lit into his team and told them they were being LeBron's "Witnesses" -- a mocking reference to the Nike ad campaign in which LeBron's fans are portrayed as the worshipping "witnesses" of King James.
"Coach pretty much got into us at halftime," Dwight Howard said. "He said we've got to cut this lead in half by the end of the third quarter and make it a game in the fourth quarter. He told us, 'We are all Witnesses.' And it really motivated us when he said y'all playing like Witnesses. He has a great way of motivating us. Right there, that brought some fire out of us."
Wonder what Shaq has to say about that?
He couldn't even get his team to the playoffs while Van Gundy is now leading the reconstruction of the Magic franchise that Shaq tore down when left