AP Photo/John Raoux
After head coach Stan Van Gundy let it be known at today’s shootaround that Dwight Howard wants him fired (and has wanted him fired since the offseason according to David Aldridge of TNT), it’s no surprise that the Orlando Magic lost to the New York Knicks.
It seemed like a mere formality once Van Gundy ended the charade and revealed the truth surrounding his future, confirming a WKMG-TV report on Wednesday that stated Dwight has been pushing for Van Gundy’s firing. Rather than continue living a lie, Van Gundy — an honest man — dropped a bombshell that surprised not only a group of reporters but Dwight himself.
You know the story by now. Moments after Van Gundy said the reports were true, that Dwight wants him out, Dwight awkwardly came over to Van Gundy, wrapped his arm around Van Gundy, and denied the rumors. Shell-shocked wouldn’t begin to describe Dwight’s expression, as he tried to navigate through a field of questions in response to Van Gundy’s moment of clarity.
Fast-forward to the game and as you’re watching things unfold, you could tell, after having to go through “The Indecision” that has evolved into a “Dwightmare,” that the Magic are bruised, battered, and broken. It was already bad enough that Orlando had to play the Knicks without Ryan Anderson, as he’s still recovering from an ankle injury.
But with all the drama surrounding Dwight, it’s clear that it’s taken its toll on the players. No one for the Magic played with energy and effort, especially Dwight, and New York was more than happy to take advantage of the situation.
With Orlando freefalling, losing a season-high fifth game in a row, it remains to be seen how far they’ll keep falling in the standings. You have to believe, though, that teams like the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks are salivating at the prospect of facing the Magic in the first round. Orlando is a wounded animal and the blood is in the water. The Celtics and Hawks are nothing more than piranhas at this point, chomping at the bit to put the Magic out of their misery.
By the way, that five-game losing streak? It’s the longest losing streak in the Van Gundy era in Orlando. You’d have to go back to 2007 to remember the last time the Magic lost five games in a row. The head coach back then was Brian Hill.
No, it’s not happy times for Orlando. Far from it.
The worst part of it all, for Magic fans, is that they’re witnessing the end of an era in the messiest way possible. They’re also witnessing a player destroying his reputation, which will take a while to repair.
That Was … Awkward
Dwight struggled, finishing with eight points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field in roughly 40 minutes of playing time, but it was nothing when compared to his pregame performance. He interrupted Van Gundy’s session with the media, shortly after Van Gundy admitted that Dwight wanted him fired.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Tyson Chandler finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but his defense on Dwight was more impressive. When the Knicks weren’t doubling Dwight, Chandler kept him in check.
In light of Van Gundy’s revelation that Dwight wants him fired, it’s no surprise that the Magic lost this game. It’s obvious that Orlando is a fractured organization right now.