Pat Williams on the Stan Van Gundy – Dwight Howard saga: “I have been in this league 44 years and never seen anything like this year.”April 9, 2012 – 6:30 am by Steven Cuce
The Stan Van Gundy-Dwight Howard saga has quickly developed into an embarrassment for the Orlando Magic. The last time we heard from Van Gundy, he was defending his star player in the hopes that he would stay with the organization past the trade deadline. Howard waffled on his decision throughout the NBA trade deadline and somehow ended up staying with the Magic. If that wasn’t enough good theater for Magic fans, they got their fix last week as Van Gundy told the press after a pre-game shootaround that his star player wanted him fired. Howard emphatically denied this statement.
Pat Williams, the senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, has been involved in professional sports for over 45 years and claims to have never seen anything like this before. Hear his take on Orlando’s recurring drama between a superstar player and unsatisfied head coach.
Pat Williams joined ESPN New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss Stan Van Gundy claiming that Dwight Howard wanted him fired, the motivation behind Stan Van Gundy telling the press that Dwight Howard wanted him fired, the fear of losing Dwight Howard in the future and never letting Dwight Howard have the power to make front office decisions.
Stan Van Gundy has said that Dwight Howard wanted him fired. Dwight Howard is denying that. Who is telling the truth?
“I don’t know what happened. It is bizarre. Stan apparently had a press conference after the shootaround today and said something that triggered all of this. All I know and can tell you is that Stan is the coach and a good one. Dwight Howard is our center. It looks like he will be back tonight. He did practice this morning as did Jameer Nelson. I think it’s just part of this year. Mike, I have been in this league 44 years and never seen anything like this year. We’ve had more plate spinning with the Orlando Magic this year just spinning endlessly and this is the latest plate to spin. I wish I could give you some real insight. All I know is that Stan will be coaching tonight and his players have been very supportive of him. He’s a wonderful coach and Dwight will be playing center tonight and in all likelihood we need a win. We’ve lost four in a row and a lot of things start spinning when you do that.” (Editor’s note: This interview was from Friday afternoon)
What could be the motivation of Stan Van Gundy letting this information get out after a shootaround before a game?
“It caught everybody by surprise. Nobody was prepared for this at the press conference after the shootaround. I don’t think anyone really knows what the story is here. Apparently a front office official [said this]. I don’t know who that person could be. I would say there is no truth to any of this. Stan is the coach and a highly regarded coach. The quotes from the players today are incredibly supportive and he does a wonderful job. Dwight Howard is the best big man in the league. We have to just go out and start pulling this together and winning some games. Above all we gotta get healthy. We are not that deep. When you lose your starting point guard and center and your power forward as we did the other night in Detroit with none of the three playing we just don’t have the ability to overcome that.”
How much fear is there in ownership and the front office that you would lose Dwight Howard?
“I think there is a sense of confidence now. We went through all of this during the winter. This is what Dwight Howard is going to do. He might do this or he might do that. On and on it went. Finally it was resolved at the trade deadline. Things calmed down at the moment for this year and Dwight picked up the option for next year, so my gut feeling is he loves Orlando. He has deep roots there. I think he wants to win. He wants good teammates surrounding him, but what player doesn’t? I think eventually we are going to be able to make a long term deal with him. That would be my guess. That’s my hunch and we’ll get this thing straightened out. That means a very busy summer for us. We bought some time with the decision at the trade deadline and now we got the rest of the summer to get this thing fixed up long term.”
To keep Dwight Howard would you be willing to give him the power to make front office decisions so that he would stay in Orlando?
“That won’t happen. You can’t do that. That’s an ownership decision about who is going to GM the club and who is going to coach the team. You can’t have players making those decisions. First of all they are not qualified. They have enough to do just playing. It’s a full-time job setting up a front office and a coaching staff. No I can’t picture any team in any sport doing that. Certainly we wouldn’t.”