Just hours after Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy went on the record as saying Dwight Howard has asked management to fire him, the team dropped its fifth straight game, losing a 96-80 stinker to the New York Knicks in front of its fans at Amway Center. Afterward, Van Gundy told the media "he expects to finish the season with Orlando," according to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, and "would be on the team flight to Philadelphia tomorrow."
"My job security is not what's important right now," Van Gundy said. "What Dwight wants is not important. What's important is that we fous on playing better as a team."
TNT's David Aldridge reported from the sidelines of Thursday's loss that Van Gundy has known of Howard's request all season long, but only went public with it Thursday afternoon.
The scene after Magic shootaround was dramatic enough, but Howard's surprise appearance during Van Gundy's media scrum took it to the level of the tragicomic. Unaware of Van Gundy's disclosure, Howard denied a recent report from WKMG Channel 6 that he had asked management to dismiss the coach. Steve Kyler, Alex Kennedy's HOOPSWORLD colleague, reported Thursday night that Howard was "livid" with Van Gundy afterward.
Howard and Van Gundy met with Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations, after the shootaround debacle, Kennedy says.