Earlier this week, a report surfaced that Magic Center Dwight Howard told Magic Owner Rich DeVos he would never play for Van Gundy again after Van Gundy confirmed to the media Howard has asked the Magic to fire Van Gundy. On Thursday, it came out that Howard supposedly called DeVos during Orlando’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks Friday to inform him of the news.
The story has blown up in the national news, but because of the track record of the reporter, many have been skeptical. Early Thursday afternoon, Jarrod Rudolph, who is very close with Howard, tried to clear things up via twitter:
Dwight Howard is injured; you can’t fake a herniated disc. I’m ignoring these stories about Dwight quitting on SVG and the team.
— Jarrod N Rudolph (@JRudolphSports) April 19, 2012
Christian Bruey, who also had the Howard/ETO story doesn’t buy the report either:
ESPN report showing conflicting info w/ WKMG report. Surprised? Dwight’s people have told us it’s not true & players I spoke w/ doubting it.
— Christian Bruey (@cbruey) April 19, 2012
Update: Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated also says the report is not true:
Regarding report that Dwight Howard told Orlando owner Rich DeVos he wouldn’t play for coach Stan Van Gundy (Read more ›), source close to the situation says it’s not accurate. It speaks volumes that people are ready to believe it, though. Dwight’s PR is a nightmare these days.
But multiple league sources directly affiliated with the Magic and Howard disputed the television report to ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace.
“It’s a completely made-up, B.S. story,” one of Howard’s representatives told ESPN.com
Anyone accusing Howard of quitting on his team must not have seen his performance in Philadelphia against the 76ers on April 7. Howard, playing in obvious pain, had 20 points and 22 rebounds in 44 minutes while leading the Magic to victory. Remember, that game was two days after Van Gundy spoke to the media about Howard requesting his firing.
Sure, Howard has made a mess of this situation and he’s handled it about as poorly as possible, but to call him a quitter seems just plain wrong.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)