One 16-point home loss later, and the uncomfortable Stan Van Gundy-Dwight Howard situation in Orlando remains unresolved. Something has to give – most likely Van Gundy, one way or another – but until then, all anyone can do is wonder when something will finally happen… and wonder who’s to blame for the situation getting this bad to begin with. Last night, the Inside the NBA crew debated this very topic, with interesting results. And perhaps not surprisingly, the harshest assessment of Van Gundy came from a guy who doesn’t have the best relationship with him:
Of course, just because it was harsh doesn’t mean it was entirely wrong. Van Gundy had to say what he did knowing full well it would put his entire team in an uncomfortable position, and saying it on a game day more or less guaranteed a game like last night for the Magic. No matter how tired you might be of dealing with something happening behind the scenes, it’s hard to think Van Gundy wouldn’t have served his team better by keeping it behind the scenes.
Not that Howard’s blameless, if he’s really gone through back channels to try and get Van Gundy canned. And as Charles Barkley pointed out, those very back channels also played a role in all this by taking Howard’s alleged comments to Van Gundy. And it was all the more interesting that not everyone else necessarily agreed with Barkley’s opinion.
One thing everyone can agree on – the Magic are completely dysfunctional right now, and we’re not sure it’ll even turn around whenever Van Gundy either quits or gets fired. Howard will still be there, and his pending free agency/contract option stuff is at the heart of all of this. What if the next coach isn’t to his liking either?
Also: it’s of course true that one need not have played in the NBA to make a good NBA analyst, but getting perspectives from various former NBA players – even if one of them clearly harbors a long-held grudge against Van Gundy – was probably the most compelling way to address this controversy. Barkley, Smith, and O’Neal have undoubtedly seen/been the source of plenty of behind-the-scenes team drama, and even if it got a little shouty at times, they know what these situations are like better than anyone. For one night, anyway, we were happy the ones breaking down the NBA were guys who’ve been in it themselves.