Former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has recently fired back at Magic CEO Alex Martins’ comments that Van Gundy “couldn’t relate to the players.”

Van Gundy told Mike Bianchi’s show on 740 AM:

“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a lockeroom….it’s a naivete,” Van Gundy said of Martins Monday morning on Mike Bianchi’s show on 740 AM.

“….I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got.

“I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”

Martins fired Van Gundy after the team’s early first round exit of the playoffs, last season. At lot of the circus that surrounded the Magic last season revolved around diva center Dwight Howard, and Van Gundy believes the Magic’s values and goals were compromised to keep their star happy.

Van Gundy said that everything changed after former CEO Bob Vander Weide retired, and admits to being extremely unhappy with the way Martins handled the situation.

“When Bob left, it really became Alex over everything,” Van Gundy told 740 AM.

Van Gundy admitted that he wasn’t blameless in the circus atmosphere.

“I’ll take my share of the blame and management needs to take theirs,” he said.

Van Gundy said the way the Magic handled the Howard drama “wasn’t good.”

“The Dwight thing was so big….in an effort, I guess, to make Dwight happy and everything else, we compromised a lot of the culture and values we had before that. It’s always a mistake when you compromise those things…everything goes South. It was no longer a team-first thing,” he said. “It was inevitable things would not go as well.”

Van Gundy did admit to having his issues with Howard. He said he has no doubt that the rumors of Dwight asking the Magic to fire him were true, claiming that upper management confirmed to him Dwight said he would not say unless they got rid of Van Gundy. When asked who told him he had this to say:

“Basically everybody that was above me…to the top level. In my mind, there’s no real dispute that that happened. There’s been people trying to run from it and cloak it in different ways.”

It first came out when Magic owner Rich DeVos told the Orlando Sentinel that Howard had come to management asking that there be a coaching change.

The Magic had a chance to trade Howard, and Van Gundy believes that former GM Otis Smith saw how the Howard situation would play out and could have traded Dwight before Van Gundy was fired.

“There were various times it could have happened….(Smith) saw this whole thing coming long before the season started,” Van Gundy said. “It ultimately ended up not being his choice.”

When Dwight said he wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of former Orlando Magic-turned-Los Angeles Laker center Shaquille O’Neal, Martins and the Magic faithful thought they had a chance to resign Howard. In the end, Howard’s flip-flopping game proved to be just that–a flop, and Magic fans were left disappointed once again.

Van Gundy said he definitely wants to coach again, but he will do as his brother Jeff Van Gundy did and become a television analyst, until the right opportunity presents itself. There has been no report as to which broadcast he would join.


[Orlando Sentinel]