ORLANDO – The rumors had floated for months and the day after Dwight Howard denied he wanted Stan Van Gundy fired, on Thursday morning the Orlando Magic head coach revealed he knew for sure that his star center had asked that he be dismissed.
“Yes, I know he has,” Van Gundy said before the Knicks beat up the Magic, 96-80. “so, that’s that’s just the way it is. I’ve been dealing with that all year. its not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job.” Asked who told him, he said, “I was told it was true by people in our management. so, you know, right from the top.”
If that seemed odd, it grew completely surreal when Van Gundy’s meeting with the media was interrupted as Howard came over, put his arm around Van Gundy.
“Excuse me,” Howard said. “Yeah, Stan, we’re not worried about that, right?”
Van Gundy replied, “That’s what I just said: we gotta be worried about winning games.”
Van Gundy slipped away and Howard was left to answer the questions and he was unaware of exactly what was said. Believing that Van Gundy was discussing the relationship, Howard started by denying the reports and asked for sources. told that Van Gundy had disclosed it, Howard issued a series of vague denials.
“The only thing that we’re concerned with is winning a championship right now,” he said. “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 Rich DeVos, I am not Alex Martins, so that’s not my job.
“everybody every other week is trying to find something. Because it’s nothing. It’s nothing. I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. so all the other stuff should stop.”
During the day, the Magic went into a damage control mode, getting Van Gundy and Howard together with general manager Otis Smith.
“He and I and Otis met,” Van Gundy said. “I mean, we’ve been together all year this year. we’ve been together for five years. Dwight will play and I’ll coach. that’s the understanding. We know that.”