Matt Barnes played for different teams in the NBA, but the journeyman cited his stint with the Orlando Magic as one of the most memorable in his career, simply because he thought the team had the talent and potential to go all the way. In 2010, the Magic roster featured Vince Carter, JJ Reddick, Rashard Lewis, Matt Anderson, Marcin Gortat, Jason Williams, Jameer Nelson, and a young Dwight Howard. On paper, the team was stacked, but they lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics. Barnes revealed what happened and who to blame for the letdown.
Stan Van Gundy went away with what worked
The Orlando Magic went to the NBA finals in 2009 but got beaten by the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. The team was back for a revenge tour and looked like it would win all the way. At the end of the regular season, Orlando was second behind the Boston Celtics. In the first round, the team swept the Charlotte Bobcats. In the second round, the Atlanta Hawks met the same faith. The Magic fans had every right to expect good things to happen due to the dominating way the team shrugged off early opponents in the Playoffs. The Celtics, however, were a different beast. But it was Stan Van Gundy who Barnes claimed was responsible for the Eastern Conference Finals loss.
“I remember Stan saying something like, 'You know this is a really good veteran team and we're gonna have to make a few adjustments and then switch some things up on offense.' But when I tell you we went and reconfigured everything we're all like, you know, what are we doing like completely going away from everything we did to get there. Even, I think a different rotation and it was a nightmare and all it kept going.”
Matt Barnes, ">Forgotten Seasons
Shaq calls SVG “Master of Panic”
Those who watched the series pointed the blame to some players such as Dwight Howard and other guys who were perceived to be too soft against Kevin Garnett and the Celtics. Barnes was short of pinning the blame on Van Gundy. Why rock the boat when everything had been going well at that time? For Barnes, he recalled Shaq’s comments on Stan Van Gundy. The two worked in Miami Heat, and the former Miami Heat center had some serious remarks on his former coach.
“When it gets tough in the Playoffs, he will become the master of panic like he did before and he will quit like he did before. When it gets time for his team to go into the postseason and do certain things, he will let them down.”
Shaquille O'Neal, ESPN
Based on former players of SVG, it's clear that he was partly to blame for the Playoff and final losses. We say partly to blame because basketball remains a team sport, and it was the players who make the plays happen on the court. With the New Orleans Pelicans, Van Gundy had a 31- 41 win-loss record before both parties decided it was time to go separate ways. Some coaches perform well during the regular season, while others shine brighter in the playoffs when the stakes are higher.
It’s a real shame the Magic failed to win despite having a loaded lineup and momentum in the offseason. Now, fans finally get an insight into why it was not all Howard’s fault.