ORLANDO — Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy got into trouble last month for comparing NBA commissioner David Stern to a world dictator, so he’s trying to bite his tongue these days. But it’s clear Van Gundy and Dwight Howard are not happy with the tactics the Hawks are employing against the Magic’s center in their playoff series, which resumes tonight.
When asked Tuesday about the Hawks’ physical play against Howard, Van Gundy specifically referenced remarks made by Jason Collins in my column Monday (Tuesday’s print editions).
“Jason Collins basically had a quote in the paper that said Dwight’s gotta know every time he goes into the lane we’re going to hit him — so it’s not like it’s a secret strategy,” Van Gundy said. “It’s everybody’s strategy. Jason Collins is just one of the few guys to come out and admit it.”
Orlando wasn’t happy when Howard was called for both a foul and a technical foul for pulling down Zaza Pachulia in the third in game one in seeming retaliation for something Pachulia had done. The Magic spoke to the league about the technical call but could not get it rescinded.
“I just keep getting hit. [But I] don’t hit back,” Howard said after Orlando’s shoot-around Tuesday.
“It happens. Just play through it. I’m tough enough.”
Asked specifically about the Pachulia play, Howard said: “It’s the same play that happens at the other end [and doesn't get called.].”
Notice a theme developing?
Van Gundy already has been fined once this season for criticizing game officials ($35,000 in January). He drew more heat from Stern in March when he defended Howard after his player picked up 16th technical foul, drawing an automatic suspension.
“This is the system David Stern and his minions like,” Van Gundy said last month. “So that’s the system you have. 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 opinion or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion So it’s up to him.”
Asked Tuesday of Howard’s foul in game one, Van Gundy said: “The league said it was [a technical]. Dwight shouldn’t hit people.”
When asked a followup question, he said again: “You’ll have to talk to the league on that. I just know Dwight’s not supposed to hit people.”
It would appear he has been muzzled.
Should be fun tonight.
By Jeff Schultz
Last few Hawks blogs