Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
In an interview with TMZ.com, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard says he has spoken with coach Stan Van Gundy "a bunch of times" since the playoffs began. Howard continues to rehabilitate from surgery he had on April 19th to repair a herniated disc in his lower back, and as a result he cannot travel with the team. "Sad," Howard told TMZ, when asked about how he's feeling. "Just a little sad that I can't be in Orlando with my teammates in the playoffs."
Dr. Robert Walkins, the surgeon who performed Howard's surgery, told Howard he could not travel during his rehabilitation period. "I feel like I'm in jail," Howard told TMZ. "I just really wish I could be there for my teammates." In his absence, Orlando is trailing the Indiana Pacers, 2-1, in their first-round playoff series, with Game Four set for Saturday. The co-captain is doing his best to remain involved with the team, telling TMZ he's spoken to his teammates "supporting them, telling them what they need to do."
The news that Howard and Van Gundy have spoken lately may come as a surprise. Before Howard's surgery, Van Gundy told the media that Howard had asked team management to fire Van Gundy before the season began, a scene made more awkward when an oblivious Howard stepped in and put his arm around Van Gundy while denying he ever asked Orlando to fire the coach. The feud between the two men divided Orlando's locker room, according to some reports.