10:04 AM CDT, May 23, 2012
The Orlando Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith this week. And now, Magic center Dwight Howard will trade himself.
Which ought to make you appreciate how complete a player Derrick Rose is. That’s physically and mentally.
It might not be news, but it at least underscores what makes Rose so special.
Rose always has been about trying to do what’s best for his team, not trying to do other people’s jobs, as well. Howard seems to be more interested in having people do what’s best for him.
Sometimes those things are the same. But in Howard’s case, it seems to so ham-handed --- Van Gundy announced that his All-Star center wanted him fired last season --- that it becomes a dividing line between good and great and between great and championship-caliber.
When a star player buys into a coach’s philosophy, the team becomes better because the player becomes the coach’s best weapon. Everybody follows the best player. Nobody colors outside the lines.
Michael Jordan bought into Phil Jackson’s demand to share the ball, maybe the greatest sales job in sports history.
Rose buys into Tom Thibodeau’s program. Heck, Rose did that with Vinny Del Negro when they both had the same amount of coaching experience. That’s the kind of player and teammate Rose is. He believes what the coach believes. Period.
Howard believes he knows better. He doesn’t, and Orlando management knows less.
Management’s capitulation to its weak-hearted center is stupid and spineless. And perhaps ultimately useless because Howard, who wanted out and then agreed to stay for one more season, can still walk away in a year. He can recover from back surgery this season, then opt out a year from now. “See ya, and thanks, Orlando management, for placing your backbones and brains in a blind trust.’’
For a long time, I lobbied for the Bulls to acquire Howard. I didn’t care about the price. Anyone except Rose. Everyone except Rose. You have a chance to get the best center in the game, you do it.
But I’m done with that. The dithering diva is rehabbing from back surgery, so I’m not sure he’ll return to being the best center in the game. Of course, the NBA is so weak at that position that Howard could have a wooden leg and still be in the top five.
My big issue is wondering what Howard is committed to. I know what Rose is committed to. He’s committed to winning. Howard? Who knows? I couldn’t deal with a guy whose head and heart appear so fluid and flighty.
It has been said the NBA is a player’s league and college basketball is a coach’s fiefdom. But the NBA is good coaches league. And a smart players league if they know what’s good for them.