Houston Rockets fans were understandably a bit doubtful in 2003. Out was fan fave Rudy T, in was the droopy-eyed, balding Jeff Van Gundy, a coach who was more famous for hanging off Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning's leg during a playoff-game melee than leading the New York Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999. And there were questions. Like how would the defensive-minded tactician handle All-Star guard Steve Francis's shoot-first, shoot-second mentality? Well, he didn't. Soon Francis was shipped off to Orlando in exchange for chronically selfish forward Tracy McGrady. Amazingly, Van Gundy taught McGrady the value of team defense and led the team to the playoffs that very year. Since then, the high school math teacher look-alike has been feisty (he faced suspension when he claimed an NBA conspiracy to unfairly officiate Yao Ming) and stable, the perfect combo to take the Rockets back to the promised land.
Readers' choice: Houston Rockets' Jeff Van Gundy