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For the past year, the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets have banked their hopes on landing superstar center Dwight Howard–either through a trade this season or as a free agent this summer.
And by just about every account, Howard was set on leaving his Orlando Magic for the Nets until a last second change of heart hours before last month’s NBA trade deadline.
So Howard probably won’t be coming to Brooklyn, which sucks for the Nets on the basketball court, but look on the bright side: his prima donna act won’t be here too.
The Knicks are in Orlando to play the Magic, and during this morning’s media session after a shoot-around, one of the most awkward and surreal scene in recent sports media took place.
This was what went down:
Stan Van Gundy, the outspoken Orlando Magic coach who’s had a history of hilarious outbursts to reporters, told reporters he knew that Howard wants him gone, confirming rumors of the star’s repeated demands to management for a coaching change.
In a world where public figures almost always give PR spins on camera, Van Gundy’s candor, at this particular time, was stunning (remember, there’s still about a month of season to go, the Magic are headed to the playoffs with an outside chance of winning it all, and they’re playing a nationally televised game in New York tonight).
When a reporter asked Van Gundy if he expects the organization to follow through on Howard’s demands to fire him, the coach said he wasn’t worried.
Then came a voice from behind Van Gundy and the pack of reporters:
“Yeah, Stan, we’re not worried about that right?”
The voice belonged to Howard.
In a scene many reporters have since described–via twitter–as “surreal”, Howard entered the media circle engulfed around his coach and placed an arm over Van Gundy.
Howard had only caught the last line of the conversation, meaning he was completely unaware of the fact that his behind-the-scene demand has just been made public.
Van Gundy soon extracted himself from the group, and reporters directed questions at Howard. Still unaware of the information his boss disclosed to reporters, Howard continued his season-long charade, dismissing the “rumor” about his wanting Van Gundy out.
At one point, Howard sarcastically mocked a reporter, asking him for his source, adding “since you got so many sources”.
“Your coach said that,” the reporter responded.
Howard’s face, at that point, was priceless.
Who would have thought that, after all that Melo-drama–the losing streak, Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, rumors of the demise of Linsanity, JR Smith tweeting a picture of a girl’s ass–last month, the Knicks would still be only the second most dramatic and dysfunctional bunch on the court tonight?