The Pistons are on the kind of turnaround professional sports franchises rarely see. After starting out 5-23 under newly instated head coach Stan Van Gundy, they have been streaking lately–going 9-2. And it’s not like Van Gundy inherited a good team. The Pistons have missed the playoffs for five straight years. Van Gundy recently cut Josh Smith, their highest profile player. And wham, the team zoomed from nowhere into the playoff hunt. Van Gundy has great pedigree now, but he caught a lot of breaks to get here–and he’s grateful and loving it.
How do you go from Division III ballplayer to president of the Detroit Pistons? “So many things have to happen,” Van Gundy told Ethan Skolnick at Bleacher Report. “I’ve always been really aware of that, that this is not a meritocracy, as least not purely. Now, I’m not trying to be overly humble. You’ve got to be able to do the job when you get the chance. But there’s a lot of really good coaches at every level out there…” Those other guys, Van Gundy is smart enough to know, ” just haven’t gotten the right break, met the right guy, whatever.” Knowing he has gotten the breaks, met the guys, he’s turning that luck into Motor City mojo.