Dwight Howard served his technical fouls suspension Monday night, resulting in a 89-85 home loss for the Magic at the hands of the Trail Blazers.
Unsurprisingly, outspoken Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy gave his two cents about the situation prior to the game – praising Dwight for his “restraint,” blaming the style of officiating in the NBA, and asserting that David Stern‘s regime, like many others in the world today, doesn’t tolerate free speech, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Howard has been fouled a ridiculous 593 times this season, many of them clearly intentional and hard enough to prevent the league’s most physically imposing player from finishing. Still, not a single one of those fouls has been deemed flagrant, and Howard has only reacted enough to earn 16 technicals as a result.
“You guys can estimate how many of those were hard hits and how many of those were above the shoulders,” Van Gundy remarked.
“And for him to retaliate as few times as he has? By the way, not one of those 593 hits, with so many of those being above the shoulders and hard, not one has been deemed a flagrant foul. Not one. Five hundred and ninety-three. Amazing restraint for those guys to hit him that hard and not go over the line and get a flagrant foul. Getting no protection from the referees, he’s only retaliated from that a handful of times.”
Accordingly, Van Gundy asserted that Howard deserves praise, not punishment.
“You could say ‘he’s losing control,’” Van Gundy said. “I would say just the opposite. I would say his control is amazing. Basically, what we’re saying [is] for those of us that work out, go run on the treadmill for 43 or 44 minutes that he plays, and I get to come by three times in that 43 minutes and smack you as hard as I want upside the head and I want you to retaliate less than once out of every 15 days that I do that three times.”
The NBA’s new technical foul rule as it pertains to complaining to referees has proven to most dramatically affect the game’s biggest stars. The players who get fouled the hardest, it seems, are the ones who are the best at scoring if they aren’t fouled, and they understandably aren’t pleased. Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony are also among the league leaders in T’s, just one or two from being suspended themselves.
Over the past decade or so, the playing style in the NBA also has become more perimeter oriented, leading officials to protect guards going to the hoop over big men putting it on the floor in the post.
“They like the way the game is being called,” Van Gundy said.
As for whether the system is fair, or the fans who paid to see Dwight Howard Monday were short-changed, Van Gundy sent barbs David Stern’s way — as much as he could without getting himself in too much trouble.
“You’ll have to ask [NBA commissioner] David Stern about that,” Van Gundy said. “He obviously thinks it’s better that he sits out.
“I can’t answer that. And I certainly can’t have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we’ve seen in this world lately, don’t really tolerate other people’s opinions or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion, so it’s up to him. He decides. And he likes the system that he has.”
Van Gundy did later clarify that he wasn’t comparing Stern to the various repressive Arab regimes making headlines of late.
See his full interview below.