Surprisingly, there may not be a person more supportive of Dwight Howard this year than his former coach Stan Van Gundy.
As Dwight Howard prepares to return to Orlando for the first time since his trade in August and his unofficial departure in April following the whole Stan Van Gundy press conference where Van Gundy aired dirty laundry and so on and so forth. We know that story.
Stan Van Gundy knows where things should be and gives everything proper perspective. So, unlike many fans, he is looking at Dwight's return with a little more positivity than many fans, as he tells Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY:
I thought we had really good chemistry on the floor and really played well together. Off the floor, guys really liked each other and had fun. I don't think they always liked me and me pushing and yelling and screaming, but they like each other a lot. They certainly enjoyed the success they were having. It was a good time here in Orlando for most of it, especially the first three years I was here."
Without doubt, Howard's eight-year tenure in Orlando included the most successful run in the team's history. The Magic won three consecutive division titles, went out of the first round for the first time in 12 years, went to the NBA Finals in 2009 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010. The Magic teams were perhaps the best in the franchise's history and were a lot of fun to watch.
It is difficult to remember the good times. Any time you bring up the prospect of retiring Howard's jersey eventually, it brings up fans' ire. The wound is still very fresh.
By all means, Magic fans have a right to boo Howard and let him know how they feel about his departure and the way it was handled. His apology seems too little, too late.
Eventually though, we will all get to the point where we can remember all the good Howard did in Orlando. And there was a lot, both on and off the court. When time passes, it will be easier to reflect on that. It will be easier to recognize all the team success he achieved and all the individual success — which includes the franchise's all-time marks in scoring and rebounding and three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Right now, Magic fans are acting on raw emotion.