When did the NBA become a sport where players get to pick their bosses. This past Wednesday, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard exercised his verbally agreed upon right to request his head coaches firing…or so we heard. In the beginning of this current strike-shortened season, the Orlando Magic did everything in their power to retain the Superstar center whose contract expires at the end of the season by trying to give him whatever he wanted. This included speculated rumors that he was in complete control of whether GM Otis Smith and current Head Coach Stan Van Gundy would keep their jobs. To me, this idea of letting a player pick their coach and GM is ludicrous. Maybe this is because the Magic have never really recovered from Shaq leaving their organization to the Lakers in the late 90’s and making the Magic irrelevant for many years.
“I was told it was true by people in our management,” Van Gundy said referring to the rumors of Dwight’s request to have him fired. In interviews before the game Thursday against the New York Knicks, Stan Van Gundy addressed the media and said, “They haven’t told me anything,” (referring to the Magic Management) “and they don’t need to. I’m the coach right now, and I’m the coach until they decide I’m not the coach. It’s 12:02 right now. If they want to fire me at 12:05, I’ll go home and find something to do. I’ll have a good day.” This was a nationally televised game on TNT which is never a good place to stir up team controversies…especially in the midst of a playoff run. The Van Gundy pregame interview became an extremely awkward situation when the talked about Dwight stepped up next to him and put an arm around the coach and asked, “Stan, we’re not worried about that, right?” Clearly not pleased with Dwight, Stan quickly diverted the rest of the questions towards Dwight and left the area.
ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith said in an interview Friday morning that he thinks Stan could have made these comments on national television to ENSURE he gets fired at the closeout of this season. It’s understandable based on the fact that the organization he works for relinquished more power to his star player then they did to himself. If I was Stan Van Gundy I would have handed in my resignation forms the second I heard these allegations. Van Gundy has helped resurrect the Magic franchise and even brought them to the 2009 NBA Finals. He will have no problem getting another coaching job in a league where it is feasible that up to 10 coaches could be fired by the end of the season.
Dwight on the other hand is a different story. Stephen A Smith went on to exclaim that Van Gundy will definitely be gone after the season, mostly on his own merit, and Dwight should be gone as well. The problem with this is that having a whining bitch of a player has proven to be a bad thing for NBA teams. Dwight will now be considered a Prima donna punk that causes controversy with no regard for its side effects. Yes, he is the best defensive player in the game, and yes, he is the best player at his position in the game, but should that all overshadow his on and off court antics? Should a player have this type of control over their own team’s organization? I think it’s bullshit and he should be traded to the lowly Sacramento Kings as punishment for his “cry-baby” mentality.
P.S. How sick would a Jeff and Stan Van Gundy sports show be?