Best Local Sports Coach (2006)

Stan Van Gundy

So he's not actually a local sports coach since stepping down December 12. But since Über-coach and Heat team president Pat Riley took (back) the reins from Van Gundy, the Armani-clad Hall of Famer's unspectacular showing has proven exactly how good his successor/predecessor really was. Riley broke up a team that was within a game of reaching the finals last year, signing and trading for a couple of score-first offensive players and veteran point guard Gary Payton over the off-season. The result has been a Heat team that scores about a point less per game than it did last year. Van Gundy had the singularly one-dimensional Damon Jones (a three-point specialist who is perhaps the worst defender in the league) playing unexpectedly great ball and scoring only a point less last year than his replacement, high-price Jason Williams, scores this year. Eddie Jones, who scored and provided the team's best perimeter defense last year, had almost exactly the same number of points per game last season as scoring machine Antoine Walker (brought in after Jones was traded) scores this year. Not that the team is bad -- they're headed for the playoffs, with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. But they have shown none of the pass-first team basketball that characterized Van Gundy's two-year tenure, including a stint before he stepped down this season, when he had the Heat, sans Shaq (sidelined with a long-term injury), playing .500 ball.


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