SVG remembers good times with Dwight
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
ORLANDO – Before the matters turned sour between the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard, times were sweet.
Before Howard alienated a passionate fan base, two front office regimes, and teammates and before a coach a GM were fired, the good times rolled.
Oh for sure, it got squirrely and it all went sideways last season with a compelling mix of humor, stress, bad decisions and communication disorder. It was a general malaise and dysfunction, resulting in Howard’s trade to the Los Angeles Lakers in August. Howard returns to play in Orlando for the first time Tuesday, and his reception will not be warm and fuzzy.
But before all that, it was, former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said it was, “a lot of fun. We worked hard, and I think guys had a lot of fun and enjoyed the success. It was just a good time here.
“They had been 12 years without winning a playoff series. We were able to go on a little bit of a run, and there was a lot of excitement around our team. Things were really on the upswing.”
From 2007-08 through 2010-11, the Magic won 50-plus games each season, including 59 victories in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Orlando reached to the 2009 Finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, and played in the Eastern Conference finals the following season. They reached the playoffs six consecutive seasons, a feat no other Magic team had achieved.
And Howard was an integral part of that success, turning into a perennial All-Star, an All-NBA first-team selection and NBA defensive player of the year three consecutive seasons.
“Dwight matured into an outstanding player … the best big man in our league,” Van Gundy said. “(Then-general manager) Otis Smith did a great job of putting the roster together and surrounded him with outstanding players who really fit him very well.”
Van Gundy and Smith saw the direction the league was headed offensively: spread the floor with shooters, and if you have a dominant big man feed him in the paint – although that style was disappearing with each three-pointer shot. … [For more on Stan Van Gundy remembers good times with Dwight Howard, click here.]