Player/coach feud explodes in Orlando

Eric McErlain Sports Blogger
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In the history of press conferences, today’s media scrum starring head coach Stan Van Gundy and temperamental superstar Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic may rank as one of the most surreal experiences of all time.

With rumors swirling around the team that Howard was working to have Van Gundy fired, the embattled head coach told reporters earlier today that team management had said in no uncertain terms that Howard had asked that Van Gundy be fired. “I was told it was true by people in our management,” said Van Gundy to a shocked group of reporters. “So right from the top.”

While such bald honesty is normally in short supply in press conferences in pro sports, things took an even more bizarre turn a few minutes later when Howard suddenly crashed the proceedings and put his arm around Van Gundy while doing his best to debunk a rumor that his own coach had just confirmed. Later, after Van Gundy had excused himself, Howard seemed dumbstruck and befuddled after he learned that his head coach had decided to play hardball. Click here to watch the press conference, one that’s sure to become an instant classic.

If you’ve got a moment over the Easter/Passover weekend, be sure to say a prayer for Joel Glass, the team’s vice president of communications. He’s going to have to spend plenty of time cleaning up this mess.

Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.