HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Where else can you go halfway around the world for a week, seemingly disconnected from all that you know and then show back up and things haven’t changed a bit?
That’s the beautiful thing about the NBA, even as the days go by, most of the headlines stay the same. The Lakers are still rolling through the competition since the All-Star break. The Miami Heat still can’t win the big one. And Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is in a cheery mood.
In sticking up for his big man, All-Star center Dwight Howard, Van Gundy guaranteed the league’s fine police will be knocking on his door this week, courtesy of some pointed comments he made about NBA Commissioner David Stern. Howard had to sit out the Magic’s loss to Portland last night after receiving his 16th technical foul of the season, which triggers an automatic one-game suspension without pay.
Van Gundy cited a statistic from the Elias Sports Bureau that details that Howard has been fouled nearly 600 (593 to be exact) times this season without a single flagrant foul being called on the perpetrator in any of those instances. What that has to do with Stern and embattled dictators around the world no one knows. Yet somehow it all got wrapped up together before the night was over.
More from the Orlando Sentinel (video included) :
Van Gundy said he finds it “really incredible” that referees have not called a flagrant foul on an opponent for excessive contact against Howard this season.
When a reporter asked Van Gundy if he expects anything to change in the way referees officiate Howard’s games, Van Gundy responded that he expects no change from the NBA.
“They like the way the game is being called,” Van Gundy said.
When another reporter asked if it’s fair to fans who paid money to watch Howard play tonight but now won’t be able to watch Howard, Van Gundy responded, “You’ll have to ask [NBA Commissioner] David Stern about that. He obviously thinks it’s better that he sits out.”
A reporter later asked whether the technical-foul system is fair, but Van Gundy expressed concern that any statement of opinion could net him a fine from league officials.
“I can’t answer that,” Van Gundy responded. “And 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 opinions or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion, so it’s up to him. He decides. And he likes the system that he has.”
Later, a reporter asked Van Gundy if he was comparing Stern to Middle East tyrants such as former Egypt leader Hosni Mubarak or Libya leader Moammar Gadhafi.
“I did not say that at all,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t even remember even mentioning their names. No, I do not. I just said David Stern does not want other people’s opinions and he does not tolerate freedom of speech when it comes to NBA issues. He’s the only opinion.”
Ah, it’s good to be back home!