HANG TIME, Texas — Are there any bridges left in Orlando? If so, Stan Van Gundy will probably burn them by tomorrow.
Dwight Howard’s former coach and sparring partner continued his carpet bombing of the franchise that fired him by calling CEO Alex Martins naive and said he had “no knowledge of the game” during Mike Bianchi‘s radio show on 740 AM in Orlando:
“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a lockeroom….it’s a naivete,” Van Gundy said of Martins Monday morning on Mike Bianchi’s show on 740 AM.
“….I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got.
“I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”
Nobody will ever nominate Van Gundy for a post in the diplomatic corp, so the fact that he’s been forthcoming and blunt in the aftermath of being let go by the Magic is hardly shocking. Truth is, in a world of professional sports that has become increasingly corporate, clandestine and, frankly, often quite boring, StanVan and his willingness to react like an exposed nerve end is as welcome as a cleansing summer rain.
Who can forget the scene last spring when Van Gundy had just finished telling a throng of reporters that Howard had asked to have him fired just before the disgruntled center walked up and placed an arm around his shoulder to act buddy-buddy?
It was just last week when Hang Time noted Van Gundy’s previous outburst on 790 The Ticket in Miami.
So it was merely a change of venue when Van Gundy brought his sledgehammer back to the home office in Orlando, hardly missing a beat, kind of like Usain Bolt handing himself the baton for the next leg of a relay.
Van Gundy said the “culture and values” instilled under former GM Otis Smith and former CEO Bob Vander Weide changed after Vander Weide retired and Martins was promoted to CEO.
“When Bob left, it really became Alex over everything,” Van Gundy told 740 AM.
Van Gundy admitted that he wasn’t blameless in the circus atmosphere.
“I’ll take my share of the blame and management needs to take theirs,” he said.
Van Gundy said the way the Magic handled the Howard drama “wasn’t good.”
“The Dwight thing was so big … in an effort, I guess, to make Dwight happy and everything else, we compromised a lot of the culture and values we had before that. It’s always a mistake when you compromise those things…everything goes South. It was no longer a team-first thing,” he said. “It was inevitable things would not go as well.”
Van Gundy, though, did have some issues with Howard. And vice-versa.
“Dwight and I had some things he wasn’t happy with and there were some things I wasn’t happy with,” he said.
Of course, the last thing that Magic management wants to do is relive the Dwightmare over and over, especially at this time when new GM Rob Hennigan is trying to begin reconstruction from the ground up.
For his part, it’s important for Van Gundy to let the world know that he is not to blame for the comically ugly way the entire affair ended. He’s a coach, a damn good one, and he wants to be back on the sidelines. We can only hope that happens soon. The question is: when does the continued bluster bombing begin to hurt his cause?