Heat coach feels more confident after meeting

Updated: July 18, 2005, 9:10 PM ET
Assocaited Press

Stan Van Gundy is still the coach of the Miami Heat, and that apparently won't change anytime soon.

Van Gundy said that he and team president Pat Riley met for 3½ hours on Sunday, during which Van Gundy was assured that "I will be coaching the Miami Heat this coming season."

But Van Gundy acknowledged on a call with Heat beat writers Monday that he was a bit unsettled by rumors suggesting Riley -- who coached in the NBA for 21 seasons, including from 1995-2003 with Miami -- wanted his old job back and was ready to push his former top assistant aside.

"I feel much more confident in the situation," Van Gundy said. "It was a good meeting; we discussed a lot of things. I feel more confident in my job and where he is coming from. A lot of things were cleared up. From my standpoint, it was a good meeting and I'm certainly in a much better frame of mind."

Riley said Saturday that he "would quit my job before I would dismiss Stan Van Gundy as the head coach simply because I wanted to coach," and again lauded the work his former top assistant has done.

Van Gundy, who took the job two years ago after Riley's sudden and unexpected resignation, is 101-63 in two regular seasons. He took the Heat to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2003-04, then guided Miami to within one win of the NBA Finals this past season -- the best showing in franchise history.

Still, the offseason has not been a harmonious one for the Heat. There's a contract to work out with Shaquille O'Neal, decisions to make on free agents Damon Jones and Keyon Dooling, a few other likely ancillary roster moves -- and looming over it all has been the coaching question.

It stemmed from what seemed like an innocuous comment at the time, Riley saying on June 17 that he "may take a little bit more of an active participation" in things this coming season.

What that means still isn't clear -- not even to Van Gundy.

"He hasn't decided how that will manifest itself and I think we'll have to see how that goes as it comes," Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy said the two discussed basketball philosophy during the meeting, the current makeup of the roster and the challenge of getting to that elusive championship level -- and the tone was always positive.

"He's a very knowledgeable guy with a great background in the game," Van Gundy said. "There are a number of ways where he can have a positive influence on the team. It certainly wouldn't be for me to decide what his role would be. I'm not his boss. He's mine."

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