We know somebody in the Orlando Magic organization told Stan Van Gundy about Dwight Howard's demands for a new coach. We know this because Van Gundy himself dropped the bomb during a session with the media on Thursday. The rumors were certainly swirling well before Van Gundy confirmed everything, but the news itself was surprising, to say the least.
More on Stan Van Gundy's power play
And we know what happened next: Howard strolled into the media scrum without a clue what Van Gundy had just said, leading to one awkward situation. It was all surreal to watch, and remains so hours after it all took place.
But we're past the shock and awe stage and into the analysis. And Charles Barkley certainly had some analysis. He chastised Howard for making the demand and Van Gundy for spilling the beans, but saved his ire for the unknown front office member.
Here's what Barkley had to say.
We don't know what's true, it's all conjecture. I don't think coach van gundy should've broke that out right now and I don't think Dwight Howard should have asked to have his coach fired. But I have a serious problem with somebody in management. If they had a private conversation with Dwight Howard, it should have stayed private. They shouldn't have shared it with Coach Van Gundy. I like Coach Van Gundy ... I don't think that was the appropriate time to drop that bombshell, especially on game day. But like I say, Dwight Howard should not have tried to get his coach fired.
But whoever the scumbag is -- if it's true -- that had a private conversation -- HAD A PRIVATE CONVERSATION -- with Dwight Howard ... to leak that to Coach Van Gundy, that's just a punkass move.
It shouldn't be a surprise that Shaq and Kenny Smith all agreed that Van Gundy's move was, in the words of Shaq, "bush league." Former players defending fellow players is nothing new. It's the front office's fault or the coach's fault, and even though Barkley said it was wrong for Howard to demand Van Gundy's firing, the desire to find a single person to blame is somewhat ridiculous.
But at least Barkley took a stand. The rest seemed lost, unable to make a salient point relating to the issue at hand. The whole crew is hung up on the private conversation thing, but what's really private in such a public game?
So Van Gundy did throw his player under the bus. But when that player was working through back channels to get him fired, he likely felt he had to do something. The situation snowballed for so long, leading to whatever "injury" game Howard was being allowed to play, that Van Gundy finally snapped.
Nobody is right. Howard manufactured the drama by privately working to have his coach fired while acting like everything was fine. Van Gundy hung his star out to dry, doing the same thing publicly that Howard did privately. He did so not while the Magic were in the race for a lottery pick, but as the team was racing towards the playoffs. And he did it right before a game.
Orlando is a circus act at this point, with a coach dropping bombshells before a game because he's probably a lame duck, a superstar playing his own games while putting on a smile in public, and a front office that seems powerless to control anything. Seems like a recipe for success.