In an NBA campaign where the unusual has been the norm, there is a situation brewing in Orlando that may give a new definition to the word strange. The “Orlando Sentinel” reported Thursday that Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy told members of the media that he has been informed from the club’s top management that All-Star center Dwight Howard has requested that Van Gundy and his staff be dismissed at the end of the current season. The Magic coach’s statements seem to confirm a story that was published Wednesday, which had stated that Howard would ink a long-term pact with the club this summer, if they dismiss Van Gundy and his assistants.
The veteran coach was asked Thursday morning if he put any credence in the reports that stated the Magic starting center had gone to management asking for Van Gundy’s head. The bench boss replied “I know he has. That’s just the way it is. Again, I’ve been dealing with that all year. It’s not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job. I was told it was true by people in our management right from the top.”
Things turned even more bizarre moments later as Howard walked over to Van Gundy and the reporters, denying the story that Orlando TV station “WKMG Local 6” reported on Wednesday that the big man had asked for his coach to be dismissed. According to the paper, Van Gundy then excused himself and walked away from the group.
When media members questioned the All-Star on what Van Gundy had just told them, Howard responded “Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control. I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not (club owner) Rich DeVos. I am not (Magic CEO) Alex Martins. So that’s not my job. So you guys should stop with every other week it’s trying to find something, because there’s nothing. There’s nothing. I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop.”
The first question that springs to mind is why Van Gundy decide to reveal this information at this point; other than to make what must already be a tense situation even more uncomfortable? Is he expecting either DeVos or Martins to come out and give him a public vote of confidence, after airing out the team’s dirty laundry for all to see? Or has Van Gundy just finally gotten so tired of the behind the scenes antics, that he just felt he needed to vent?
The Magic head coach’s relationship with the team may be beyond repair; however this purging process he is going through may cause team’s to pause when thinking about him as a candidate in the future. Van Gundy did not deserve to get fired by the Miami Heat, but he handled it like a professional which most likely was a big reason why he got a new job in such a short time. From the outside looking in; it seems that the coach has allowed his emotions to dictate his actions in this situation; which can only hurt him in the long and short-term.
Although his anger and frustration are understandable and possibly warranted; his public venting will only result in him tarnishing his own reputation and could keep him from being hired by a club that would be a perfect fit for him and his coaching style. As the old saying goes “Never Let Them See You Sweat.” Van Gundy has to start doing a better job of keeping his cool, until this situation is finally resolved.