Stan Van Gundy on Billy D leaving Magic — “I got lucky.”


There was another interesting intersection of paths for tonight’s season-opener between Florida and Georgetown on the deck of the USS Bataan.

Former Miami Heat and Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy called the game for the NBC Sports Network . The Magic hired Van Gundy in 2007 after Billy Donovan changed his mind and returned to Florida after a six-day stint with the Magic in early June.

Van Gundy would have ended up with the Sacramento Kings had Donovan stayed with the Magic.

“I got lucky,” Van Gundy said.

In 2008, with elite big man Dwight Howard, Van Gundy led the Magic to the NBA finals. But the duo couldn’t coexist. Van Gundy resigned toward the end of last season. Howard forced a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Still, Van Gundy has no regrets about his five years with Orlando. And he thinks Donovan has no regrets about his decision to stay at UF.

“It worked out well for both of us,” Van Gundy said. “I mean, when you talk about what Billy Donovan has done, the Final Fours, the national championships, there were a lot of people that were telling him 17 years ago not to take the Florida job. He’s done a remarkable job there.”

Van Gundy said he thinks Donovan would have had success with the Magic if he stayed.

“He’d be great,” Van Gundy. “There’s no doubt about it. I know the guys offense would translate great to the NBA level. He knows how to work to that level, that mentality because he’s coached a lot of pro-caliber players.”