Stan Van Gundy may have just compared David Stern to a dictator

There's sticking up for your players. That's one thing. And then there's going ridiculous lengths to stick up for your players. On Monday, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy did both.

In quoting an Elias Sports Bureau statistic that points out that All-Star center Dwight Howard(notes) hasn't been fouled flagrantly in 593 whistles this season, Van Gundy makes a good point. Sure, quoting raw fouling stats is always dangerous (it is entirely possible that Howard hasn't been fouled flagrantly all season), but for someone who is often sent to the line on purpose, while constantly being guarded by the biggest bruiser the other team has to offer. Simply put, Howard has definitely earned quite a few flagrant fouls this year, and the NBA's referees haven't called them.

Where Van Gundy loses support is with this quote:

"This is the system David Stern and his minions like it," Van Gundy said. "So that's the system you have...I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him."

"Like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately." Is that some sort of lame reference to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi?

Van Gundy shouldn't have to be reminded that the terror of Gaddafi's regime is hardly a recent phenomenon. The man has been in power since 1969, and was on the cover of TIME magazine twice in the 1980s. And while he might not like the way David Stern runs the NBA, it's safe to say that his localized reign of terror doesn't exactly approximate Gaddafi's. This is like explaining to a 13-year-old that, no, your English teacher isn't a Nazi because she assigned you more homework than you would like.

Howard had to serve out a one-game suspension on Monday because he's amassed 16 technical fouls on the season. While number 16 was pretty lame, the bulk of them have been wholly earned. Howard complains about call after call, incessantly, and has shown little regard for his growing technical count since the season started. He knows better, and yet he won't stop chirping. And he earned his suspension. I don't care that he feels resentful because Omer Asik(notes) or Glen Davis(notes) haven't been called for a flagrant foul on him this season.

The center only picked up two technicals in the month of February, but this has been a prominent story since last fall. The focus and pressure were on Howard, and yet he didn't stop complaining.

And while Van Gundy might be right to complain, there are certain levels and references to avoid. Because Stan Van Gundy and his Orlando Magic haven't lived through 1/1,000th the levels of oppression enforced by "a lot of leaders we've seen in this world, lately."

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