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In what had to be one of the most bizarre game-day scenes in NBA history, Van Gundy confirmed a WKMG-TV report that Howard is pushing for his ouster, and did so right before the center walked through a circle of news media members and embraced his coach."They haven't told me anything," Van Gundy said of Orlando management, "and they don't need to. I'm the coach right now, and I'm the coach until they decide I'm not the coach. It's 12:02 right now. If they want to fire me at 12:05, I'll go home and find something to do. I'll have a good day." Clearly unaware of the stunning claim Van Gundy had made, Howard suddenly appeared at his side and put his right arm around the coach. "Stan, we're not worried about that, right?" Howard asked.
“"That's what I just said," Van Gundy responded. "We've got to be worried about winning games."
I'm the coach right now, and I'm the coach until they decide I'm not the coach. It's 12:02 right now. If they want to fire me at 12:05, I'll go home and find something to do. I'll have a good day.” -- Stan Van Gundy
Howard and Van Gundy exchanged a little small talk about the Knicks game before the coach asked reporters: "Are you guys done with me? You talk to him now."A day after denying to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard in a text message that he wanted his coach out, Howard appeared taken aback when informed of Van Gundy's disclosure. The center asked reporters to cite the source for the claim, and reporters kept reminding him that his coach had offered confirmation. "I haven't said nothing to anybody," Howard said in the text message Wednesday to Broussard. "My main focus is that me and Stan and the team are on the same page for the playoffs. Whatever happens at the end of the season is up to the management." Howard said before the game Thursday the "only thing that we're concerned with is winning a championship right now. "Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control. I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not [owner] Rich DeVos. I am not [president] Alex Martins. That is not my job. ... I haven't said anything to anybody about anything.
“Howard decided against opting out and becoming a free agent after this season, but has said he does not want the responsibility of determining the futures of Smith and Van Gundy. Van Gundy's current contract runs through the end of the season. He has guided the Magic to at least 50 wins in each of his previous four seasons and led Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009. Howard and Van Gundy seemingly have always been on cordial terms, though Howard sometimes has been critical of Van Gundy's direct and vocal coaching style, which he has previously said can be counterproductive to team morale. Smith and Van Gundy met during the offseason. Van Gundy left the meeting pledging to tone down some of his intensity during games with both officials and players. So far this season, he has yet to receive a technical foul. Asked this week to address the status of Van Gundy and Smith, Martins said only that both he and Smith will undergo end-of-the-season evaluations, as do all Magic employees. Information from ESPN The Magazine senior NBA writer Chris Broussard and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control. I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not [owner] Rich DeVos. I am not [president] Alex Martins. That is not my job. ... I haven't said anything to anybody about anything.” -- Dwight Howard