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Dwight Howard apologizes to Orlando

Dwight Howard LakersDwight Howard has lost a lot of fans in the Orlando area since last season, and his group of supporters shrunk even more last week when the Los Angeles Lakers center called his former Orlando Magic teammates a bunch of guys that nobody wanted. Howard later tried to clarify what he meant, but it seems like most people don’t want to hear it.

Howard will return to Orlando for the first time as a member of the Lakers on Tuesday. During a recent interview with USA Today Sports, he offered an apology to the people of the city where he began his career.

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” Howard said. “If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

No matter what he says, the people of Orlando are going to feel resentment toward Howard for the way he handled himself and allowed his relationship with Stan Van Gundy to become an embarrassment. Whether the reports of him constantly changing his mind about his future with the Magic were true or not, Howard did very little to clear things up during last year’s roller coaster ride. He acknowledged that he made a mistake in just sitting back and allowing the speculation to run rampant.

“Whenever something happened, I should’ve let my teammates know,” Howard explained. “I should’ve said, ‘OK, this is what’s going on. I know what’s being said, but this is how I really feel.’ Or, ‘Hey, Coach, this is what’s being said, but this is how I feel,’ instead of just letting everything pile on and me not saying anything. I just felt at the time like, ‘I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to sit back and let it unfold.’ By doing that, everybody was getting mixed signals.”

At the moment, Howard’s priority should be helping the Lakers sneak into the playoffs and earning the respect of the fans and his teammates in LA. The Lakers have won eight of their last 10 games and Dwight is averaging 15.5 points and 14.8 rebounds during that stretch. That may help his popularity in LA, but Howard should expect to hear plenty of boos on Tuesday no matter how hard he begs for forgiveness prior to his return.

Jameer Nelson calls out Dwight Howard for being unprofessional

Dwight Howard Jameer NelsonJameer Nelson responded Wednesday to Dwight Howard’s disparaging comments about the Orlando Magic, calling the center “unprofessional” for his remarks.

In a recent interview with KCAL/CBSLA, Howard said he took a team in Orlando “full of people nobody wanted” and led them to the NBA Finals. Howard was probably exaggerating for effect because he was trying to remind everyone of what he’s accomplished in his career, but his negative portrayal of his former teammates is not going over well.

Nelson and Howard both began their NBA careers in the 2004-2005 season with the Magic and were teammates their entire careers until Howard was traded to the Lakers in the offseason. Though they were extremely close in Orlando, the relationship appeared to become strained last year when the two reportedly got in a fight. It looks like they still have some tension.

“At some point, when are you [Dwight] gonna as a man, when are you going to take ownership and stay out of the media in a professional manner?” Nelson said of Howard Wednesday, per the Orlando Sentinel.

“I would be less of a man to comment on certain things that people comment on about me and my teammates. We had a great run as a group, as core guys, and he was a part of it (reaching the 2009 Finals) and for him to say things about anybody in a negative manner, that’s up to him.

“That’s his opinion. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”

Like I said, I really don’t think Dwight thought carefully about his comments. I think he just said them to prop himself up. If he really thinks about them, he’ll probably realize how wrong he was. GM Otis Smith did a great job drafting or bringing in lesser-known players like Marcin Gortat and Courtney Lee, but don’t even try to tell me that nobody wanted Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu, or that nobody would have wanted Nelson at the time.

Howard tries to present himself as a jovial fella everyone should love, but that reputation keeps disintegrating because of his actions.

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Dwight Howard walked off the court without shaking Magic’s hands after loss

Dwight Howard spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Orlando Magic. Howard didn’t exactly leave the city he began his career in on good terms, but now that he is playing with the Los Angeles Lakers one might assume that would all be water under the bridge. It didn’t seem that way after L.A.’s loss to the Magic on Sunday.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Howard walked off the court at the Staples Center following his team’s 113-103 loss without talking to any of his former teammates or coaches.

“That’s fine,” Jameer Nelson said when asked about Howard’s snub. “Certain guys don’t shake hands after the game.

“I don’t have any hard feelings to the guy. He made a decision to do what he did. He’s on the team that he’s on. I’m here in Orlando, where I want to be. I just wish him the best of luck. I’m not going to go up and hug him and kiss him or anything like that. I think my coach would be mad at me.”

Glen Davis added that Howard probably didn’t want to shake hands because the Lakers lost.

“If he wants to walk off the court, it’s cool,” he said. “No hard feelings, you know? He lost. I would feel bad, too. I wouldn’t want to shake anybody’s hand. So it is what it is.”

As we said a couple weeks ago when Kobe Bryant left the floor with a few seconds still remaining in a Lakers loss, some players just have a hard time accepting defeat. Two Celtics stars walked off without shaking hands following their Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, so Howard didn’t invent the move. That being said, he had to have known snubbing his former team would warrant more attention.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Orlando Magic performer falls during stunt, carried off on stretcher

There was a delay in the second quarter of the Orlando Magic-New York Knicks game on Tuesday after a Magic stunt team member fell and hit her head on the court.

The performer, whose name is Jamie Woode, was treated by paramedics in the arena and taken away on a stretcher. She was waving to the crowd as she was being taken away, and she received a standing ovation from both teams.

The Magic released a statement later in the game and said Woode, a former UCF cheerleader, was being transferred to Orlando Regional Hospital. The team says she is breathing on her own and moving her extremities. As of Wednesday, Woode had three fractured vertebrae and a broken rib, but no neurological damage.

Below is a video of her getting treated:

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Stan Van Gundy blasts Magic CEO Alex Martins: He has no sports knowledge

There will be no talk about how the NBA is just a business and how there are no hard feelings now that Stan Van Gundy and the Magic have officially ended their relationship. There are hard feelings. It was no secret that Van Gundy and Dwight Howard did not get along, and Stan feels as though the Magic did a poor job of handling the situation. In particular, he doesn’t think very highly of Magic CEO Alex Martins.

“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a locker room…it’s a naiveté,” Van Gundy said Monday morning on AM 740 according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got. I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”

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Jerry Sloan says the possibility of him coaching the Magic is ‘very intriguing’

If Jerry Sloan truly has the itch to coach again, there are a number of teams who would have him. The Hall of Fame head coach seemingly called it a career when he resigned from his Jazz job in 2011. Despite never winning a championship, Sloan led Utah to 15 consecutive postseason appearances from 1989-2003. He is the only coach to record 1,000 victories with a single team and only the fifth in NBA history to eclipse the 1,000-win mark. Needless to say, Sloan’s resume speaks for itself.

With Stan Van Gundy having been fired on Monday, Sloan told Fox Sports Florida on Tuesday that he would be interested in coaching the Magic if the opportunity arose.

“Yes, I think so,” Sloan said. “It would be very intriguing. But they would have to be interested in me.”

If you’re skeptical about the 70-year-old truly wanting to return to coaching, consider the fact that he also said he has interest in coaching the Bobcats but has not heard from them.

“It’s not always about starting at the top,” he said when asked about Charlotte’s historically horrible 7-59 record.

Sloan says he needed to get away from basketball back in 2011 but he still has a “void of basketball.” As for whether or not he could coach Dwight Howard in the event that the Magic do not trade him, Sloan said that is for other people to decide. Do us all a favor, Jerry — stay away from Charlotte.

Photo credit: Phil Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Magic’s defense significantly worse without Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, so it’s pretty obvious he’s an outstanding defender. But it’s hard to quantify how good he is until you see how the Magic play without him.

The Magic’s record and defensive stats without Howard (who is out for the rest of the season) are alarming:

FOX Sports Florida also says opposing teams are averaging about four more points in the paint without Howard on the floor.

Anyone could have told you the Magic are not a good team without Dwight Howard, but the numbers show you what a big difference he makes on the defensive end. This team will be an easy out in the playoffs without him.