Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy‘s relationship did not end well in Orlando. Before Howard’s unnecessarily drawn out exit was complete, Van Gundy had been fired — reportedly in accordance with Howard’s wishes — and the franchise was thrust into a black hole that led to the Magic posting the worst record in the NBA last season.
If there are any hard feelings, though, it appears they have been forgotten. Howard told reporters in Houston that he actually sought out Van Gundy for input during free agency last summer and that his former coach contributed to his decision to sign with the Rockets.
“I talked to Stan a lot during last season,” Howard said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “During the offseason, we talked and he felt like the system that would fit me best and the coaching staff would be Houston.”
In a radio interview, Van Gundy confirmed he “did tell [Howard] I thought Houston was a system that would fit him well.” So it sounds like Van Gundy shouldn’t expect a Christmas card from the Lakers this year.
Howard and Van Gundy enjoyed five of the best seasons in franchise history with the Magic from 2007 to 2012. They made the playoffs all five years, reaching the NBA Finals and the Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back seasons. Howard won three NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in that stretch and capitalized on his raw skills to become a perennial 20-points, 10-rebounds per game player.
The end, which featured one of the most awkward interviews of all time at a practice when Howard rebuffed rumors that he had tried to have his coach fired, moments after Van Gundy had stood in the same spot and said exactly that, was a disaster. Yet the two apparently maintained a positive relationship.
“One side is business and one side is personal,” Howard said. “On the business end, we probably didn’t work well together toward the end of our careers in Orlando. But on the personal level, we have always had respect for each other. We have always been able to sit down and talk to each other.”
Van Gundy echoed Howard’s remarks.
“I don’t think either one of us was willing to let a couple of bad months destroy what was five good years together,” Van Gundy said. “I have great respect for him as a player and it’s nice to hear he has great respect for me as a coach.”