When you talk about bruising NBA confrontations and players going
Pre-game shoot-around interviews are usually filled with lame quotes like “we need to keep up our intensity” and “we’re going to continue to be aggressive” but the Orlando Magic changed all that on Thursday morning. Before taking on the New York Knicks in a crucial home game, Orlando Head Coach Stan Van Gundy fronted the media. What happened next was both informative and extremely unusual as Van Gundy was quoted revealing that Dwight Howard had asked Magic management to fire him.
When asked for his source, SVG stated that he had been told by people “at the top” of the Magic organisation, confirming the reports. He also made it quite clear that he wasn’t going to be stressed out about it, stating that he was more worried about how to stop Carmelo Anthony from scoring in their upcoming game vs the Knicks.
With the interview already becoming quite awkward, Dwight Howard entered the scene. He made a couple of jokes about the “rumours” and put his arm around SVG. He then asked the media where they had got their story from and the awkward-meter raised to another level.
Check out the footage:
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Let’s just drink in what’s going on here. Stan Van Gundy has clearly had enough of the “roadshow” that is the Dwight Howard saga in Orlando. Making this statement in front of the media is not only risking his job (considering Dwight’s recently signed extension) but it’s also sending a strong message to Howard that he’s not being punk’d any longer.
But is he right to do so? Or is this a “bush league” move as the guys from TNT put it?
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Stan Van Gundy has most likely “lost” the playing group with this move and probably won’t be coaching the Magic for much longer. To put that nugget of information out there pre-game like that may not have been the best move in the world but it may also just be a white flag for Van Gundy. If the Magic release him of his duties, there will be plenty of team’s knocking on Stan’s door so maybe he just wants out? Instead of the coach “losing” the players, maybe the players have lost the coach as a result of Howard’s behaviour?
As for Orlando’s GM Otis Smith, he may have taken a closer look at the Knicks yesterday and seen a much improved team as a result of a sudden coaching change. All food for thought in Orlando.
So where does this leave Dwight Howard? You all remember the smiling, loveable, happy-go-lucky “D12” who won dunk contests and dressed up as Superman? Well this situation has twisted and turned so many times now that one has wonder how much more the Magic fans can take. Is SVG really that bad to play for? What percentage of Orlando fans still love Dwight?
Howard has gone from publicly demanding a trade, to signing an extension with almost every conceivable twist in between. He’s demonstrated arguably the worst Public Relations skills seen in a long time, easily eclipsing LeBron James’ well documented “Decision” debacle. With that said, LeBron wasn’t at all malicious in executing his plans, just perhaps a little misguided. Howard’s situation has spiraled so far out of control that it looks for all intents and purposes that he’s purposely trying to go from Superhero to Supervillain.
Even Laker die-hards have been seen on Twitter stating that after this latest incident, they’re glad management didn’t trade Andrew Bynum for Howard. These people are the same (collective) group who would have sold their Grandmother alongside Bynum to see Howard in a gold and purple number “12” just weeks ago.
It’s hard to see where this one ends up, although it’s clear that the Orlando Magic are broken. Their franchise players wants their Head Coach out, their fans are growing tired of the drama and their GM is hanging on to his job by a thread. All in all, it’s a mess.
Stay tuned as the failure in Orlando is bound to get worse before it gets better.