Dwight Howard plays at Amway Center on Tuesday for the first time since the Orlando Magic traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Though Magic fans will certainly boo Howard throughout Tuesday's game, former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said in a radio interview with Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that booing wouldn't be the right thing to do.
"I think he should be greeted very well," Van Gundy said. "He had eight very good years here. ... While he was here, he did a great job for the organization and took it to unprecedented heights. I would think the fans should reward that and give him a very nice ovation."
Van Gundy also said that he thinks the Magic organization should consider retiring the uniform numbers of Howard and Shaquille O`Neal, another Hall-of-Fame center who left Orlando acrimoniously.
"They are the two best players in the history of the organization," Van Gundy said. "If you're not going to retire their numbers, then whose numbers are you going to retire?"
Van Gundy coached Howard from 2007/08 through 2011/12. Orlando dismissed Van Gundy in May after the team's second consecutive first-round playoff exit. Van Gundy and Howard memorably starred in one of the most unintentionally hilarious videos in recent NBA vintage, when Howard crashed Van Gundy's media scrum without knowing that Van Gundy had just told the press that he learned from management that Howard had asked the team to fire him.
Despite that incident, Van Gundy and Howard maintain a close relationship. "Me and Stan have a pretty good relationship," Howard said, according to ESPN Los Angeles. "We respect each other and we continue to talk to this day. We've kept the business side out of everything that we discuss and he understands how I feel."