In The Land Of Milk And Honey !
By tophatal ………
With a mere three weeks left before the culmination of the NBA regular season it is interesting to see the many situations being faced by a number of teams jostling for position in terms of a playoff berth and those simply on the outside looking in . Perhaps no one team amongst the so-called contenders best represents a franchise in disarray than the Orlando Magic . In what appears to an ever heated relationship between All Star center Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy , have the two seemingly at odds over allegations that the player tried to have the coach fired . Howard , it has been reported appealed to Alec Martins , COO of the Orlando Magic . Though the front office and General Manager Otis Smith have quickly put to rest the allegations it would appear that this has drawn the ire of Stan Van Gundy . What might be even more asinine is the very fact that the head coach earlier this month stated that he wasn’t concerned about being fired . Well that no longer appears to be the case with this latest “blow up” within the organization .
Slide show for your perusal .
In the aftermath of this whole debacle was the very fact that in the Magic’s last game immediately after these events was the team’s anemic display against conference rivals the New York Knicks in a sixteen point loss (96-80) . Such was the ineptitude shown by players during that game played at the Amway Center in-front of their home crowd that it prove to be an absolute embarrassment for Van Gundy , his coaching staff as well as the players who seemed to be willing participants in this “comedy of errors ” . .
Dwight Howard for his part has denied any culpability in any of the claims now being made by the Orlando Magic head coach. It begs the question once the off-season comes around will there be room for either the Stan Van Gundy or his All Star center ? The players now hold all of the power within the NBA over the head coaches but there is the exception to the rule in such a case , where that coach has some semblance of success . As now you can count those currently coaching who have won an NBA title on one hand . It all comes down to the lack of respect by the player for that coach . Does anyone now question that premise as it relates to Dwight Howard and his relationship with Stan Van Gundy ?
While I find this to be nothing new I do feel that both parties are to blame in this latest spat of stupidity within Orlando Magic ! Dwight Howard had the chance to leave the organization as a restricted free agent at the trade deadline earlier this season but instead he chose to remain with the franchise . It was widely known that the player was dissatisfied with the play of the team and had sought Van Gundy and Otis Smith’s input in perhaps acquiring a number of free agents to bolster the team’s roster . Instead , no major moves were made by Smith and it would appear that if anything they sought actively to trade the center by gauging the interest of the Los Angeles Lakers and New Jersey Nets . The Nets were willing to part with Brook Lopez as part of a multi-player , multi-team trade but because of an unforeseen injury that placed Lopez in the sidelines for a prolong period , nothing ever came of that scenario. Mitch Kupchak , though not making a public statement had made inquiries as to the availability of Dwight Howard and it would appear that the Lakers’ general manager was quite prepared to trade either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol as part of any such envisaged deal . The Lakers earlier this season sent ….. Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks and Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets , only for the latter to have his contract bought out but he would then sign with the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder , where the point guard has made a determined contribution to the team .
The Los Angeles Lakers recently have had their fair share of woes over the course of their season but much of it has been with regard to the ever-increasing divergence in the relationship between Mike Brown and his center Andrew Bynum . The player was recently fined an undisclosed sum by the head coach for conduct unbecoming and a violation of team rules . Earlier in the season it was felt that Bynum was showing signs of maturity , something that many questioned in the early stages of his professional career. Drafted by the organization in 2005 (10th overall 1st round ) the player has had his fair share of criticism and praise . But with this recent setback , one has to wonder whether or not Bynum can be the face of this franchise as the playing career of Kobe Bryant begins to wind down . If Andrew Bynum is to assume that lofty mantel then the issue now becomes whether or not he’s retained by the franchise or possibly traded . Clearly for the Los Angeles Lakers they would like to see that maturity level come into being and with the center being more focused . In a recent stretch of 8 games in the latter part of March , Bynum was amongst the most productive centers within the NBA .
When you consider the players that have graced the Lakers’ purple and gold , most notably names such as Jerry West , Wilt Chamberlain , James Worthy , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant , himself . And as we know the Lakers’ franchise much like the Boston Celtics have a very storied history built upon a foundation of greatness and under the custodianship Red Auerbach who gave us a litany of Hall of Famers . It’s almost a certainty that Bryant and O’Neal will be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in , Indiana .
The Los Angeles Lakers for their part lead the Pacific Division by a mere 2.5 games over the second placed Los Angeles Clippers (32-22) . Mike Brown’s team find themselves in third place within the Western Conference , behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-14) and San Antonio Spurs (38-14) . Were the standings to remain as they are presently , the Lakers would have the first round playoff meeting with the sixth seeded Dallas Mavericks (31-24) . A playoff series , if their Lakers’ regular season meetings are anything to go by would indeed be an intriguing match-up. If the Los Angeles Lakers are to succeed then the combination of Kobe Bryant , Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are most certainly needed to be at their very best if they are to go deep into the NBA playoffs.
Now while I’m in no doubt that the position of center is to be greatly admired within the NBA but I’ve long-held the contention that the play has deteriorated because over the since the heydays of Hakeem Olajuwon , David Robinson , Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal . Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard are deemed to be the two best players in the game today at the position and within the respective conferences. However , there’s no denying what we are now seeing is a growing level of immaturity of many of today’s most prominent stars within the NBA . The actions however of Bynum and indeed Dwight Howard brings into question not only their maturity but whether or not the financial rewards are justified among the players but especially those who are part of the “one and done ” element within collegiate basketball who make the jump to the professional ranks of the NBA . Neither Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum played at the collegiate level having entered the league fresh-faced high school players prior the mandate brought in by the league hierarchy in conjunction with the NCAA .
With the Kentucky Wildcats having won that program’s eighth national title in defeating the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament and sweeping through their schedule with consummate ease . With head coach John Calipari now getting that “1000lb gorilla off his back “ with his first national title , the mindset is and has always been that is programs simply produce the players that have fit into the criteria earlier mentioned. His championship winning team will see three , if not more players from that stable who were participants in their championship run declare their eligibility for the upcoming NBA Draft . Consensus player of the tournament an AP Player of the Year ….. Anthony Davis , Michael Kidd-Gichrist and Doron Lamb are all likely to make the jump to the professional ranks and to be lottery picks or mid-level first round draft picks in this Draft .
We may well decry the NBA and the NCAA for not doing enough concerning what widely known to be rampant violations of the rules as set by the NCAA . And it certainly hadn’t helped that the sports agents , athletics directors and coaches in essence profited greatly from this all . In light of the scandals that have blighted the programs (basketball) of the U Conn Huskies , USC Trojans and most notoriously the Miami Hurricanes of which the latter has yet to receive any penalties levied against it for the gross violations of the basketball and football programs . It begs the question in light of Nevin Shapiro’s now proven allegations , what is it that Mark Emmert is waiting on , even in light of the NCAA’s investigation ? I mean it’s not as if Shawn Eichorst or university President Donna Shalala for that matter are said to be doing anywhere near enough to clean up the image of the university after the now incarcerated felon’s claims to his malfeasance . Shapiro was given unprecedented access and a wide latitude to the athletes on the campus , much of it with Eichorst and Shalala , present . And there have been those who have questioned Calipari’s honesty and integrity when it comes to the program where he has been a head coach . Repeated violations , sanctioning of the programs in question all adds to the perception and in many respects the demeanor and behavior of the players .
Billions of dollars are at stake annually , at the collegiate and professional level in the NBA . With that comes the expectation of success , much of it under the premise of being ” the immediacy of now ” . I hasten to add , there are some players at the collegiate level who have made the jump to the NBA as underclassmen and made their impact while at the same time showing a great deal of maturity . It is somewhat unfortunate to see the behavior of Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum , now tarnish their image with a complete lack of maturity ! Much of what we perceive and see may well be determined as to how the their seasons pan with their respective teams . And as of now it appears that things are not that necessarily clear for either of basketball franchises in question . Stan Van Gundy may well see his tenure with the Orlando Magic come to an abrupt end , albeit that his situation wasn’t aided by the his star player’s behavior and the poor form of his team through much of March and the beginning of April.
For Andrew Bynum , with the organization having sought to extend his contract . I am not so sure his situation will improve between now and the end of the regular season given the inconsistency of the Lakers and the very fact that the window of opportunity for this team to win an NBA title appears to be coming to an end .
By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size .
Picture gallery for your perusal .
In light of the issues of both Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard where do you see their immediate future in terms of being with their respective organizations ? By all mean chime in with a comment as you see fit .
Picture and slide show details below . ==========================================================================================================================
(1) Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins , right, talks to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy before an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Magic won 88-82 . AP Photo/Michael Perez ….
(2) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, right, and Dwight Howard smile at each other as Howard comes off the floor in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Michael Perez ….
(3) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, talks with Dwight Howard (12) during a timeout in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux …..
(4) New York Knicks’ Toney Douglas (23) makes an uncontested lay-up on a fast break against the Orlando Magic as teammates Steve Novak (16) and Landry Fields (2) look on during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. New York won 96-80 . AP Photo/John Raoux ….
(6) Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown instructs his team against the Phoenix Suns during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Matt York …
(7) Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum (17) slips past Phoenix Suns’ Robin Lopez , center, and Channing Frye during the first half of an NBA basketball game , Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Matt York … ….
(8) Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum (17) spins around Phoenix Suns’ Jared Dudley during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Phoenix. The Lakers would go on to lose the game 125-105 . AP Photo/Matt York …
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