Stan Van Gundy opens up about end of tenure with Magic, Dwight Howard


The former Orlando coach pulled back the curtain on what happened last season in a wide-ranging interview with USA Today.

The Van Gundy brothers, both of whom now work as TV analysts, have never been shy about sharing their opinions.

On Tuesday, USA Today released an in-depth interview with Stan that touched on many subjects: his time with Orlando, his relationship with Dwight Howard, what he thinks of the Lakers' struggles and whether he'll return to coaching.

It's a long read, but it's well worth your time. Magic fans might be particularly interested in Van Gundy's take on what happened in his final season in the Magic Kingdom:

Q: Why are you sitting on your deck right now while Dwight Howard is in L.A.?

A: Two separate questions. I think Dwight had decided before last season started - maybe even before then - that he was going to leave Orlando.

Q: Do you think he really knew what he wanted?

A: I think he might have known. He had a great fondness for Orlando, the fans and the way people treated him. I think he might've wanted a different environment, a big city. He's a young guy and I think he was conflicted. It was hard for him. Dwight doesn't like to disappoint people. That's one of things that sort of clouded the situation and made it as messy as it was. He's not the kind of guy to just say, "I want the hell out of here.''

With me, the situation wasn't good for our team. There was a lot of speculation, first about (Howard possibly) leaving. As a team, our guys dealt with it well. Before he got hurt, we had one of the top five or six records in the league. The distractions kept amping. The story got out that Dwight asked for me to be fired. Before the All-Star break, ESPN reported that the Magic had told Dwight that, at the end of the season, he could decide whether (general manager) Otis (Smith) and I came back.

I had some real disagreements with (Magic CEO) Alex Martins. Otis and I were on the same page and I didn't have any problems with Dwight. I had problems with how our organization approached the situation, how they decided to cater to (Howard) in ways that I thought were counter-productive for our team.

I thought we should have dealt with some of the rumors (about his coaching future). I made it known that it wasn't a matter of my fate. They could have ended all the speculation and fired me right then - I said that to them. That stops the speculation and gets you back to basketball. They wouldn't do anything about it.

Van Gundy seemed to save most of his ire for Orlando CEO Alex Martins, the man ultimately responsible for firing him after the end of the season.

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