Controversial Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties with the team following an incident-packed season which included disappointing performances on the court and high-profile bust-ups off it.
The coach took the reins with the Magic back in 2007, leading the team to the NBA Finals in 2009. Despite that brief highlight, Van Gundy’s time at the Magic didn’t bring the sort of success which had been expected by the owners and fans of the team from within the NBA online community.
Defeat in the first round of the play-offs against the Indiana Pacers, coupled together with a public falling out with All-Star centre Dwight Howard, seems to have been enough to convince the owners to dispense of the 52-year-old’s services, as well as general manager Otis Smith.
Chief executive Alex Martins admitted the decision to fire Van Gundy hadn’t been an easy one, ending a five year reign of the head coach with a record of 259-135.
“These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices,” Orlando chief executive Martins said in a statement.
“The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused.”
A rumour being passed between those that bet on basketball is that Howard called for Van Gundy to be fired if he was going to sign his new long-term deal with the Magic, an accusation denied by the All-Star centre.
But it certainly looks as though Orlando have chosen their star player’s happiness above that of their embattled coach.