Being swept in a playoff series is quite a humbling feeling for any NBA coach, however, it appears that Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons handles it better than most.
The 56-year-old was on the receiving end of a 4-0 whitewash to the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Pistons had harboured greater hopes than that, especially after coming out even at 2-2 in regular season matchups.
Despite the season-ending sweep, Van Gundy found time to praise his counterpart Tyronn Lue, who played under him at the Orlando Magic back in 2009.
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Lue is only 38-years-old and only had 41 regular season games under his belt as a head coach before the postseason got under way. Still, the rookie coach excelled during his first playoff series on the pine and revealed what encouraging words his former mentor had for him.
“Stan just said I did a phenomenal job this year coaching the team,” Lue told ESPN.com. “He said these playoffs were great with my ATOs (after-timeout plays) and baseline out-of-bounds plays.
"He said I’m doing a hell of a job and to keep it up. And he said when I played for him, he knew I’d be a great coach one day.”
Despite the 4-0 series scoreline, it was far from comprehensive for the Cavaliers. Lue remarked afterwards: "That had to be one of the better 1-8 series ever, even though we swept.”
The victory will mean the most to Cleveland, but on a personal note, Lue is beaming with Van Gundy's praise.
“It means a lot from a premier coach like Stan who is well respected around the league, and to have a chance to get a compliment from a guy like that and then to beat him 4-0, it means a lot,” Lue told ESPN.com. “Because I know he’s very smart, he’s very intelligent, and I knew this was going to be a tough series. Which it was. It was a tough series for us. It was just a great grind-out game for us. It was a great grind-out series for us, and we needed that, to wake us up early.
“And I mean, to beat Stan and beat him 4-0, that means a lot to me. Because I know he’s a bad m-----f-----.”
There's a quote for you.
Lue's delight is clear to see, and why not? Advancing past a Detroit unit led by the likes of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson is no small feat and many experts had speculated that the deficiencies in LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving as a unit would hold Cleveland back from becoming true challengers.
So far, so good, and Lue couldn't be happier.