Saturday, April 7, 2012

Howard and Van Gundy make it awkward in Orlando

Remember "Happy Go Lucky" Dwight Howard? He was known as a guy who always had fun out there. (© Brett Favre) He was one of the smiling faces of the NBA, a guy who put up great numbers but also was a fan favorite.

Lately, Howard seems more like a spoiled brat.

It all began with his not-so-private hints that he wanted the Magic to trade him, a Nuggets-Carmelo Part Deus, if you will. Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to play somewhere else. But then Howard held the Magic hostage this season when he flip flopped back and forth several times on whether he wanted to be traded or ride out the rest of his contract with Orlando. After finally picking up his option for next season, it seemed like we could put all of the Dwight Drama behind us for at least one more year.

Then Stan Van Gundy confirmed the rumors that Howard asked the Magic front office to fire the coach.
With the Magic hosting the Knicks tonight in Orlando, Van Gundy was talking to reporters when he was asked to respond to a report on an Orlando television station Wednesday that Howard had told management he wants Van Gundy and his entire staff fired after the season.

Van Gundy, asked if he believed Howard had asked for him to be fired, replied, "I know he has.''

"That’s just the way it is," Van Gundy said. "Again, I’ve been dealing with that all year. It’s not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job."

Sure, we can blame that one on Van Gundy, who has a reputation for always saying what's on his mind. As MSG's Alan Hahn pointed out in Thursday's Knicks - Magic postgame, while quotes like that are great media fodder, there really wasn't any reason for Van Gundy to say it. What made things even more interesting is that Howard came out right after Van Gundy's comments and gave the coach a hug, unaware that SVG had just pulled back the curtain on Orlando's in-house drama.

We can't blame this all on Dwight Howard. People can all relate to having a boss they don't enjoy working for. Most people's bosses don't know that and then go tell the media about it, though.

What we can blame on Dwight are his actions throughout the process. From his lack of commitment to his stoic postgame interviews, he has only made matters worse. And it's undoubtedly hurting his reputation around the league. The Knicks traded too much to get Carmelo Anthony, a malcontent in Denver according to some, and when he came to New York the same sorts of things happened. It was pretty much him or Mike D'Antoni, and now Mike Woodson is the coach. Other NBA GMs might be concerned the same will happen if they trade a bunch of pieces for Howard. Or, like the Knicks, they might not care. A coach is certainly more replaceable than a perennial All-Star center in his prime.

That's the sadness of it all. It really doesn't matter as long as Howard is still one of the game's best. Team's will trade for him, or sign him to a big money free agent deal, and then reshape their entire organization on the fly to fit his wants.

So for now the Magic organization, Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard remain in a sort of purgatory. It's like a divorce where the husband and wife keep living together, waiting for their lawyers to settle the whole thing.

Van Gundy and Howard's impending separation is just as ugly.

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