Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard share a smile. (AP)First, Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy says he knows that All-Star center Dwight Howard has privately lobbied the team's management for his firing. Then, Howard tells everyone that he didn't do that and we should all stop being such jerks to him about it. Then, all the guys on "Inside the NBA" and a ton of other people who are good at business say that everyone involved in the situation is a bush-league dummy who shouldn't say anything about anything ever.
Meanwhile, the Magic continue to be weird and worse than they used to be, struggling through injuries to Howard and Ryan Anderson, banning their terrible, terrible reserve point guard for insubordination, and losing six of their last eight to drop to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
Sound about right to y'all? Does that pretty much bring us up to speed? OK, great. Let's now watch the Magic work to get Howard back on the court and Anderson back in the flow, try to win some of their eight remaining games and put all the rest of this garbage behind them for at least the next few weeks in pursuit of a title. Great!
/walks away whistling a Disney tune, possibly "The Bare Necessities"
Hmm? What's that? Dwight Howard gave a one-on-one interview to Hannah Storm of ESPN, attempting to save face on the whole "I tried to get my coach fired" thing, a portion of which was made available Thursday and the rest of which is forthcoming? Oh. Dope. Let's dig in!
A longer version of Howard's interview will reportedly air during a May 25 ESPN2 special, and by that time, the Magic will have long since bowed out of the playoffs, so it'll be nice to see Dwight again.
Luckily, Josh Robbins has a transcription of the piece of the ESPN interview that the network did make available up at the Orlando Sentinel's Magic Basketblog. Howard tells Storm he was "totally unaware" of what Van Gundy had just told reporters when he famously ambled over and put his arm around the head coach, shares his immediate reaction to the reports that he demanded SVG's ouster ("That's crazy") and says he never said anything about firing his coach of the past five seasons.
Then, he says something else — something that's been reported by the likes of Y!'s own Adrian Wojnarowski, but that we haven't already heard him say: that he's done this before.
Storm: Did [the report that someone told Stan you'd requested his firing] bother you?
Howard: Did that bother me? You know, it did, it did. I got a lot of negative press out of the whole situation. You know, 'Coach killer, this or that.' And it was just bizarre how the whole thing happened. You know, but, I haven't said anything this season — to anybody in management about, you know, you need to do this with Stan, or vice versa; they never said we'll do this for you.
Storm: Have you said it in past seasons?
Howard: Have I said it before? Ahh ... Being upset, yea, I've said it, you know, but I've always come back and said I'll do a better job, I'll take more of a hit, I'll lead better, I'll do everything I can to get better.
So ... Dwight Howard did say to somebody in management that he wanted Stan Van Gundy fired. He just didn't do it, like, recently.
Well, I guess that is a sign of being a better leader and doing everything you can to get better. Because if, before, you were going to members of the Magic front office and telling them that you wanted the head coach of your team fired while "being upset" — the coach who figured out that the best way to use your talents was to surround you with shooters, space the floor, put out multiple units that were nightmare five-man covers and help leverage your prodigious talents into between 52 and 59 wins and a shot at the Finals every year — and this year you haven't been doing that, then that's better. That's an improvement. It also makes the rest of it kind of hard to believe, but considering how hard any part of any of this has been to comfortably believe and process, I guess we'll take it.
One other exchange from that transcript stuck out:
Storm: If you could look back over the last year and do anything differently, would you?
Howard: The only thing I could probably say that I could have done better is probably just keep my mouth shut more.
Welcome to that particular party, Dwight. I'm sorry there aren't any hors d'oeuvres left — there have been so many of us here for so long that we clean polished 'em off ages ago. On the plus side, you can probably pick up some grub at the party you're making a public appearance at Friday night, despite being ruled out of the next three games because your injuries have rendered you too dinged up to suit up. They say that laughter is the best medicine, so have fun!