Stan Van Gundy on self-induced stress

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
12:09
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
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The state of Florida has been consumed by University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer's announcement that he's taking some time off from coaching duties to attend to his health. On Saturday, Meyer resigned. On Sunday he backtracked, stating that he was merely taking an indefinite leave of absence. Meyer said, "in his gut," he expected to be prowling the sidelines again at some point in 2010.

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel spoke to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy about Meyer's reversal:

"Sounds to me like he's taking off the spring game," Van Gundy cracked.



Van Gundy expanded on how the inordinate stress of a high-profile gig like coaching can take a physical toll:

But as a member of the fraternity, Van Gundy can just as quickly take the Florida Gators football coach's plight seriously.

He knows coaching can be dangerous to your health. Relentlessly driven and intense, Van Gundy concedes that he's thought about whether the job could kill him.

"Yeah, I definitely have thought about that. I don't see myself dying on the sideline. That's why I don't see Jerry Sloan in me," Van Gundy said, referring to Sloan, the Utah Jazz icon who is the dean of all pro coaches at 21 years with one team.

Van Gundy is in his third season with the Magic and, in October, signed a contact extension through 2011.

Asked if Meyer's situation hit home, Van Gundy said, "It does. Anybody in the profession can relate. The thing you can relate to is that it's all pretty much self-induced."

Van Gundy said it's the losing that wears on coaches 24/7, adding, "That's what I can't turn off."



Van Gundy might have helped his mental and physical well-being by changing his combustible behavior on the bench this season, "being less demonstrative," he said.

It's a tricky balance, as Meyer's equivocation demonstrates. The job might kill you ... but you can't live without the adrenaline.

Bear Bryant was once asked during the latter days of his tenure as Alabama's football coach what he'd do once he retired. Bryant responded, "I'd probably croak in a week."

Less than a month after his final game at Alabama, Bryant died.

Schmitz brings up Stan's brother, Jeff Van Gundy, who has been both active and rested since he moved into the broadcast booth:

Jeff is planning to run a marathon in Houston next month. When asked if he thinks about exercising, Stan laughs, "All I do is think about it. It's an excuse. It becomes a time thing. I know it's not good, it's not right."

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