Jeff Van Gundy: It's amazing how Stan Van Gundy defends Dwight Howard

Mike Bianchi


6:56 PM EDT, March 15, 2013


Running off at the typewriter. …

Even Jeff Van Gundy is flabbergasted at how his brother, former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, has become Dwight Howard's biggest advocate in the past few months. While Dwight has been getting criticized unmercifully by the national and local media, it is SVG, the man who Dwight tried to get fired in Orlando, who has become Howard's biggest ally.

If Dwight were Newt Gingrich, Stan would be Fox News.

If Dwight were Kim Jong Un, Stan would be Dennis Rodman.

If Dwight were Tim Tebow, Stan would be, well … me.

"It's amazing to me how Stan has come to this guy's defense," Jeff Van Gundy said. "You don't find too many guys who have been fired coming back and defending the guy who got him fired. It's certainly an interesting dynamic."

Jeff laughingly lampooned Stan most recently defending the recent comments in which Howard said he played in Orlando with "a team full of players nobody wanted."

"Dwight and Stan are saying, 'What he really meant to say was this (that Howard's Magic teammates were underrated.). I told Stan, 'I don't need an interpretation of English. I can read what he really meant.' "

I've always liked the Flying Burrito Brothers, but I think I like the Fighting Van Gundy Brothers even better.

They take shots at everybody, including each other.

Short stuff: I've learned a lot about papal protocol this week. For instance, I found out that the place in the Vatican where the newly elected Pope goes to put on his papal white vestment for the first time is called "The Room of Tears." Hey, isn't that what Magic fans call the Amway Center? … When I saw all of that white smoke coming out of the Vatican earlier this week, my first thought was that the Honey Badger had just been elected Pope. … And is it just coincidence that I found out about the papal decision while I was watching Skip Bayless on ESPN? I guess you could say I got "Pope-a-Doped." … And speaking of the Worldwide Leader, here's how the network's army of NFL insiders should present breaking news: "ESPN has confirmed what Jay Glazer has already reported." … Jay Leno: "In Venezuela they held the funeral for dictator Hugo Chavez. Many world leaders were there: Iran sent their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Cuba sent Raul Castro; and we sent Dennis Rodman." …

Can you believe Magic point guard Jameer Nelson actually blamed the media for making Dwight's return to Orlando into a big story this week? In related news, Jameer blames automakers for Lindsay Lohan's driving record becoming a big story. … Speaking of Dwight, I'm told that he has fired one member of his inner circle – a once-trusted advisor who was instrumental in persuading him to leave Orlando for a larger market. … PGA Tour golfer Ben Crane appeared on our radio show this week and talked about becoming a YouTube musical sensation with his band "The Golf Boys" – fellow tour players Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler. In the video of their hit song – "Oh Oh Oh" -- Watson is shirtless and shows off his massively hairy chest. Said Crane, laughingly reciting a recent tweet: "If my ball landed in Bubba's chest hair, I'd have to take an unplayable lie." …

True story: I met Gov. Rick Scott earlier this week and the first thing he said to me was, "I like your haircut." I have to tell you, I dislike him just a little bit less now. … Prediction: Heat's winning streak will account for more victories than the Magic have all season. … "Multiple" sources tell me sports anchor David "Ping" Pingalore has signed a 4-year deal with WKMG-Channel 6. Ping is like your typical Major League baseball player: All he has to do is bat close to .300 and he gets a lucrative, long-term contract. … Last word: What number do you think Nik Vucevic will wear when he becomes a Laker?


Don't forget, you can click on OrlandoSentinel.com and read the wildly popular Open Mike blog and interactive extravaganza to get my freshest takes on what's happening in the world of sports. Here's an updated blog item from earlier in the week about the Van Gundy brothers and their belief that the Magic should consider retiring the numbers of Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal.

Not only did former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy think Orlando fans should have cheered Dwight Howard upon his return to Orlando earlier this week, he also believes the Magic should consider retiring the jerseys of Dwight AND Shaquille O'Neal.

Van Gundy echoed the stance of his brother Jeff, an ABC/ESPN analyst who said on the broadcast of last week's Lakers-Bulls game that he believes the Magic should consider immortalizing Dwight's No. 12 and Shaq's No. 32.

"They are the two best players in the history of the organization," Stan said. "If you're not going to retire their numbers then whose numbers are you going to retire? Maybe you don't have to retire any numbers, but to me, yeah, if you're going to retire any numbers, those would have to be the first two."

I couldn't disagree more. My criteria for retiring numbers obviously differs from the Van Gundys. I think to have your number retired by an organization, you either have to lead that organization to a championship or have spent the brunt of your career with that organization (see Karl Malone and John Stockton with the Utah Jazz).

Shaq was in Orlando only for four years and is much better known as a Laker. Similarly, Dwight, by the time his career is over, will probably be more recognized as a member of some other team (Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, etc.) than he will be remembered as a former Magic player. I will say this though: In time, Dwight, who is the Magic's all-time leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker, could conceivably be a candidate for jersey retirement in Orlando

However, Stan Van Gundy and I do agree on one thing although for different reasons: He, like me, thought Dwight should have received an ovation from Magic fans Tuesday night. As I wrote in an earlier column, a standing "O" would have reminded Dwight that he will never again be loved like fans in Orlando loved him. Stan said Dwight should have been cheered because of what he did for the organization.

"Dwight had eight very good years here," Stan said. "While he was here, he did a great job for the organization and took it to unprecedented heights. I would think the fans should reward that and give him a very nice ovation."


(Most interesting reader retorts, radio rabble, tangy tweets and message board mockery of the week):

On Percy Harvin being traded to Seattle: "He's moving to a state where weed is legal? Hmmmm."

On who should be the Pope of Florida sports: "Bobby Bowden. He already preaches to the masses, forgives players, has a stained glass window and a statue of his likeness."

On NFL wheeling and dealings: "Do the Jaguars realize free agency has started?"


(In honor of St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, my three favorite quotes about drinking):

"I drink to make other people more interesting." – Ernest Hemingway

"A lady came up to me one day and said 'Sir! You are drunk', to which I replied 'I am drunk today madam, and tomorrow I shall be sober but you will still be ugly.' " – Winston Churchill

"In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria." – Ben Franklin

mbianchi@tribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740-AM.