Monday night on ESPN’s Hill and Schlereth radio show, ESPN (football) analyst Mark Schlereth laid into Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic and the NBA itself, during his “that’s the stinking truth” segment.
The basic jist of his argument made sense; It was, essentially: NBA teams shouldn’t let superstars run their teams.
But he went even further, suggesting that input on management decisions from star players will almost certainly always lead down a dark and trecherous path (his sentiment, my words). He also used the horrible, and insensitive “letting the inmates run the prison” remark (from a misguided perception that the NBA is a “thug” league) to describe the situation in Orlando, but he did rightfully point out that Van Gundy did a remarkable job with the Magic (and wrongfully praised Otis Smith, as well. Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Gilbert Arenas?).
Schlereth wasn’t the only sports talking head/columnist to slam Howard and the Magic.
Accross the landscape of sports media Tuesday morning, people were making comments like “maybe Howard should become the player-coach/gm!”
Maybe people who think like that should quit their jobs, get into the gym and become an NBA superstar. If they lack the strength, height, agility, speed, hand eye coordiantion, balance, and sheer athleticism it takes to even make it to the NBA, maybe they should go back to school for sports management and then apply for a few GM positions.
The fact of the matter is, these men and women ripping into Howard and the Magic don’t have a clue.
I’m not saying I have a clue either, but at least I can look at the situation with a mind free of any resentment towards those lucky few who rise to the level of sports superstar.
Sure, Van Gundy was given a raw deal. But the guy practically fired himself with that post-practice press conference fiasco. It doesn’t matter how warranted you might think your actions are… If you throw a player and an organization under the bus like Van Gundy did, you are going to get fired.
And the fact that anyone can paint Smith as a victim in this situation is beyond me. He was the entire reason this circus unfolded the way it did.
There’s no way in hell the Orlando Magic, as constructed, are going to win a championship. That team is Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, a bunch of shooters… And that’s it.
The aforementioned experiments with Arenas, Lewis and Turkoglu blew up in Otis’s face, and, in turn, in Howard’s.
It’s a wonder that Van Gundy was able to win as many games as he did while he coached the Magic.
The best players in the league have a long history of influencing management decisions, so this shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Magic Johnson, one of the best players in the history of basketball got his coach fired and then did nothing but win until he retired. Only at a time like this do people bring that up (I know, I know. Howard hasn’t won anything yet. Well, like I said before, he wasn’t winning anything with Otis and Van Gundy, either).
And Magic isn’t the only example. But I’m trying to keep this short, so let me get to the point.
Dwight Howard does not want to be a player-coach/gm. He did not even necessarily want to get his coach and GM fired. He wants to do something that not many NBA players ever get to do before the retire: Win a championship.
Otis Smith wasn’t building a championship team and Stan Van Gundy could not get that team over the hump… And THAT’s the stinking truth.