Let me start with saying that this may well be an overstatement or even false. But Ric Bucher, I believe, is actually a reporter who wouldn’t go with a story if the source can’t be trusted.
Here’s the report, and we’ll go from there:
One source close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher that the Magic have promised Howard that they will add a quality player before Thursday’s deadline and that Howard can decide the fate of both GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season if he signs an extension. Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson, frustrated in Milwaukee, is available and sources say he and Howard have talked about playing together.
Here are the reasons I’m skeptical:
1: This is a bombshell of a story that should stand alone. Instead, it’s in the middle of a story about larger appeasement efforts with bylines for Marc Stein and Chris Broussard. Why can’t Bucher write his own story about it? Makes you wonder.
2: It’s one source. And sometimes, that’s the only source that exists, but multiple sources are generally the norm for reporter, especially with a nugget this big.
But sometimes reporters vouch for their sources and an editor or manager, weary without a second source but trusting enough of his reporter will choose to report the information as part of a larger story hoping to (a) bury it if it turns out to not be true since it’s the middle of a long piece but (b) still have it out there so they can say “you heard it here first.”
That’s a lot of inner-workings of the media stuff, but it’s important to recognize all that before diving into the meat of this story, which is the apparent desperation of the Orlando Magic to do anything and everything to keep Dwight long-term. That includes bringing all of his friends here to play and letting him fire his own bosses.
IF this story is true, and I can’t stress that caveat enough, it will be one of the most embarrassing stories in sports history. And I choose that phrase carefully. That’s not bombast or hyperbole. There is little more embarrassing for a franchise than a desperation for a player that lets him literally run the franchise.
Ownership is enamored with Dwight Howard. That same article says Rich DeVos regards Dwight as a son to him. And while it’s nice that owners feel that way towards players, it’s an irresponsibly close relationship that is clouding judgement and preventing the proper operation of the franchise.
I fully understand what Dwight Howard is and what he means to the city of Orlando, but no player is worth this. A team simply cannot remove all boundaries and give an emotional player limitless power over player movement and personnel decisions. And should he actually have the power to fire his coach and GM, then the Orlando Magic will become the laughingstock of professional sports.
I would expect Stan Van Gundy to immediately resign if that’s the case. At least, that’s what I would do. I would not want to work for any company where employees can fire their bosses. Managers need to be able to make tough, unpopular decisions if those decisions are necessary. You would think a billionaire like DeVos would recognize that. He’d never run any other business that way, so there’s no reason he should run the Magic this way.