Stan Van Gundy Comes to Dwight Howard's Defense

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 22:  Head coach Stan Van Gundy leads the Orlando Magic against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 22, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Magic 101-74. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Dwight Howard has been under fire recently thanks to a few choice comments that he made about his former teammates on the Orlando Magic, but his former coach, Stan Van Gundy, seems to think that everything has been blown out of proportion.

This all started when Howard talked to a Los Angeles television station about his former teammates in Orlando (via the Orlando Sentinel):

And I understand coming here to L.A., Kobe’s here and for 17 years Laker fans have seen Kobe be, they just see Kobe as somebody who’s serious. It seems like he doesn’t fool around, joke around, whatever it may be. But that’s his personality, and just because I don’t necessary make a [growling sound] or do all that during games or on the bench, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about succeeding or wanting to win.

And I always tell people, "Hey, my team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face."

While Dwight was talking about his demeanor as the leader of the Magic, the part of the quote that really stood out was the "team full of people who nobody wanted" bit.

What exactly Howard meant is up to your interpretation, but the damage was done, and it definitely seems like he was taking a shot at his old teammates.

However, Van Gundy sees it in another light (via ESPN LA):

"He did not, in my opinion, mean to say 'I didn't play with good players in Orlando,' " Van Gundy, currently an analyst for NBC Sports, told the L.A. Daily News. "The question was about his demeanor. He's been criticized for his demeanor on the court. He was basically trying to defend himself in his demeanor saying he can be smiling and still be serious about winning. What he meant to say is, 'We had an underrated or under the radar team in Orlando and we won a lot of games and I was the best player on that team and this was my demeanor. So what's the problem now?'

Sure, Dwight's main intention was to defend his attitude on the court, but it does seem as if he let loose a bit of a Freudian slip in saying that his former teammates were more rejects than anything else.

On Tuesday, Howard returns to Orlando for the first time since being traded, so we'll see how his recent comments hang over the heads of some of his former teammates, some of whom have taken offense to what Howard said.