By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Former NBA head coach and current ESPN Basketball Analyst Jeff Van Gundy is sticking up for his brother. That’s not surprising.
Van Gundy has admitted that he has a fractured relationship with his brother Stan Van Gundy, the current head coach of the Orlando Magic. Yet, he is supporting his brother in his saga with Magic star Dwight Howard.
“People have in their own mind how I should answer that question which is, ‘I’m unbiased and I’ll just call it straight down the middle,” JVG said. “That’s not true, and it would be disingenuous. I have a horse in the race and I think when you do, you say this is where I am coming from.”
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Van Gundy and Howard have had a love-hate relationship this season. Last week, Howard said to reports that he wanted Van Gundy fired.
Earlier this season, Howard requested a trade. And then he rescinded the trade request. This put Magic GM Otis Smith in a tough position.
“I don’t feel the need to defend Stan’s record,” the younger Van Gundy brother said. “That speaks for itself. Howard’s actions and his play speak for themselves. And their time together speaks for itself. The fault to me lies in burying your head in the sand, not [Orlando GM] Otis Smith, but those above him thinking that the problem will just resolve itself. I think certainly it should have been taken care of it at the trade deadline one way or another.
“The team has been divided by the drama and the energy has been sucked out. But I have to say Howard on Saturday, with his back [spasms] issues, played a courageous game [The Magic ended its five-game losing streak with an 88-82 win over the Sixers; Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds]. They played as hard as they did all year, and I don’t know what the reason for that is.”
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At this time, Van Gundy is not expected to call another Magic game this season. If they reach the postseason, he could call a game at that time.
“I think the larger message to Stan’s answer if people would have looked at the entire answer, was that it doesn’t matter if Howard has asked for him to be fired,” Van Gundy said. “The only thing that matters is doing right by the team. To me, the air is now cleared. Everyone knows where everyone stands and there is no more hiding behind semantics or any of that. Listen, if Stan wants to return I hope it happens, but let’s face it, Orlando has had a history of this. It has not worked out well for a coach there.
“I think when he gave his answer it was truthful but all he cares about is doing right by the team. He is going to coach hard and I think he just wants Howard to play as he did Saturday night. Now everything is out there and no one is hiding behind anything. Hopefully, they can play with the pride they showed Saturday night.”
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