Van Gundy: Dwight Howard asked to have me fired

Orlando Magic head coach makes comments to media

Stan Van Gundy.
Stan Van Gundy.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said that he's been informed by management that Dwight Howard has requested his ouster, confirming the story first reported by Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore.

Van Gundy made the comments following the team's Thursday practice session.

"Do you believe that Dwight has asked for you to be fired?" a reporter asked Van Gundy.

"Yes, I know he has. So that's just the way it is," Van Gundy said.  "I was told it was true by people in our management right from the top."

[VIDEO: Van Gundy, Howard |Awkward relationship? | SURVEY: Fire coach?]

Van Gundy said the situation hasn't stopped him from focusing on the task at hand.

"You go out and do your job," Van Gundy said. "I don't need love and support here at my job. I'll turn to my family for that."

A reporter then asked if the team stand behind him.

"They haven't told me anything -- and they don't need to," Van Gundy said. "I'm the coach right now, and I'm the coach until they tell me I'm not the coach.

As Van Gundy spoke, Howard, who was unaware of his coach's comments, approached him and addressed the media. 

"Is Dave Ping here today, the guy who started this BS?" Howard asked.

Van Gundy then excused himself, saying, "You can talk to him now."

"Stan just said that you wanted him fired," a reporter said to Howard.

"I said that?" replied Howard, who terminated an opt-out clause in his contract last month and is under contract with the Magic through next season.  "Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control.  I haven't said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop."

"Is it possible that you all could be together next year?" a reporter asked.

"I don't know, maybe you should ask Ping," Howard said.

On Tuesday, Pingalore, citing sources, reported that in order for Howard to sign a contract extension with the Magic, team owners will have to fire Van Gundy and his coaching staff.

Pingalore talked to Magic owner Rich DeVos about Howard's alleged demands.

"He's not going to dictate what is going to happen," DeVos said. "We talked to him about it and the mistake that we made is that we didn't talk to him about his preferences.

"He can't make those decisions and choices," DeVos added. "We will make those, but we will let him know what we are making and we want his opinion on what fits and doesn't fit."

The Magic lost 96-80 Thursday night to the New York Knicks, the team's fifth straight loss.  The Magic are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

After the game, Van Gundy didn't want to dwell on the controversy.

"I simply clarified a situation. That was it.   I didn't have any comments about anyone, and I don't have any comments about anyone now."
A reporter then asked him if he's been told that he'll coach the remainder of the season and if he'll make the road trip for Saturday's game at Philadelphia. 

"Yeah, I do expect to," Van Gundy said.
Howard repeatedly said "next question" when asked about the saga after the game.

Many fans seem to be backing Van Gundy, although some say Howard is the reason they go to the games.

"The new arena is here because of Dwight Howard," a fan said.  "When you go to the Amway Arena you don't see a Van Gundy poster on the side. You see a Dwight Howard poster."

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.