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Stan Van vs. Superman

Our Mickey Mouse town is in the national spotlight again. This time it isn’t about the drama surrounding gun laws and hoodies, it’s a different kind of drama — NBA drama. Oh yes, the sport that keeps on giving the finger to the fans is back on center stage where it belongs. Here in Orlando, where a magical kingdom and a mouse named Mickey try to keep the peace, we’ve got a basketball team that can’t seem to get along. Our superstar and savior, Dwight Howard, is at odds with head coach Stan Van Gundy — again.

This is nothing new. The Stan and Dwight show has been tenuous since the get-go. Dwight doesn’t seem too fond of The Gundy because of his emotions on the sideline, his iron-fist attitude, his unwillingness to coddle, and his likeness to porn legend Ron Jeremy. OK, maybe I made that last part up, but I bet it’s hard to take criticism from The Gundy if all you can think about is 70s-era porn. Regardless, their relationship is getting hairy.

The latest chapter in the Stan and Dwight soap opera came to a climax during shootaround before the Knicks game April 5. Stan was surrounded by media members when he dropped a bombshell that would soon elevate this drama to a Kardashian level. The Gundy revealed to the world that he was told by someone “at the top of the organization” that Dwight had asked for him to be fired. The Gundy wasn’t done. He added, “The only thing I’m ever uncomfortable with is bullshit.” The cattle feces reference was a dig at his superstar drama king, Dwight Howard. The Gundy had now put Dwight on blast and was essentially washing his hands of any more bullshit.

What came next is the most disturbing scene of this entire homemade drama. Dwight showed up, put an arm around The Gundy and flashed his trademark smile. This may have been the only time where his Disney World smile didn’t bring the peace. The Gundy excused himself and left Dwight alone with the media. Not knowing that his coach had just outed him, Dwight was ambushed with questions about his backroom dealings and looked as unprepared to answer as Morris Claiborne was for the Wonderlic. The smile, which began so proud and bright, had disappeared.

No one’s smiling now. Our city and our team have become a punch line for every sports fan with a microphone or keyboard. Some say it’s Dwight’s fault; others blame Stan Van Gundy and the organization. Regardless of who is to blame, fans of the Orlando Magic suffer. It’s hard to wear your favorite Magic t-shirt or hat when your team is mocked and ridiculed. It’s hard to defend your coach when you have to put down your best player. It’s hard to feel good about a team when no one’s smiling.

The Orlando Magic used to be a winning team whose collective smile would brighten the new Amway Center with every dunk or three-point shot. Now, with all of the bullshit being spread, we have a team with a mouthful of cavities. Somewhere, Shannon Hoon is singing, “I tell him how much I used to love to watch him smile/See I haven’t seen him smile in a little while/Haven’t seen him smile in a little while.”

It’s time for our Orlando Magic to smile again. And win.

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