What could have been a long, drawn-out process, actually ended up lasting about a week. The Dwight Howard free agency fluffing that started in July ended a week later when Howard announced he’d chosen to pair with James Harden on the Rockets. According to Howard himself, it might have been his former Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy who tipped the scales in Houston’s favor.
Howard told the Houston Chronicle‘s Jenny Dial Creech he talked with his former coach about his important free agency decision.
“I talked to Stan a lot during last season,” Howard said. “During the offseason, we talked and he felt like the system that would fit me best and the coaching staff would be Houston. He said he liked (Kevin McHale). He likes (Hakeem Olajuwon). He likes (James Harden) and the fact that this is a young team. It reminds him of the team we had in Orlando so he felt like this would be a good fit for me.”
Except Howard and Van Gundy clashed during his last season in a Magic uniform and Stan hasn’t rejoined the coaching ranks since that turbulent 2011-12 campaign together. During Dwight’s final season in Orlando, there were reports he didn’t want to play for Van Gundy. Then there was that famous press conference where Stan told reporters Dwight had asked management to get rid of him.
Dwight addressed the disconnect since any sort of relationship between the player and coach is peculiar to outsiders.
“One side is business and one side is personal,” Dwight said. “On the business end, we probably didn’t work well together toward the end of our careers in Orlando. But on the personal level, we have always had respect for each other. We have always been able to sit down and talk to each other.
“From a guy who has coached me and he understands situations that are going to make me thrive,” Howard said. “He knows me best. We were together for five years. We had great years together, great runs in the playoffs so he understands what it would take to win. Stan is a guru when it comes to studying basketball. Getting advice from him has always been beneficial to me.”
If Dwight actually feels that way about his former head coach, then why did he sabotage him in Orlando? If people are wondering why a lot of NBA observers simply throw their hands up in exasperation any time D-12 opens his mouth, this is a pretty good example for why.
That being said, SVG is one of best basketball minds in the game, and an excellent coach. So if he’s still doling out advice to Dwight and they remain friends, then we should probably set aside any leftover antipathy from that uncomfortable 2011-12 Magic season and let bygones be bygones. Stan did.
What do you think?
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