Dwight Howard was hampered by foul trouble in all four games of the Magic’s sweep against the Charlotte Bobcats. Some of the fouls were of the ticky-tack variety. Others were fouls Howard brought upon himself by getting frustrated and unnecessarily swinging out his arm when Bobcat defenders got physical with him. Not only did foul trouble keep him on the bench, but it caused him to be less aggressive when he was on the floor.
Stan Van Gundy has been known to speak out against officials. Howard was visibly angry at the referees almost every time a foul went against him. After the series, he was fined $35,000 for comments about the officials on his blog. Magic general manager Otis Smith, however, does not support Howard’s views about what happened with fouls in the first round. Tim Potvak of FanHouse is reporting that Smith went off on his young superstar, and had a talk with him about taking responsibility for his fouling habits.
Here’s some of what he told the media about Howard:
“This time of year, the officials do a pretty good job. We’ve got another round of this, and it’s going to be just the same. He needs to be on the floor longer than 28 minutes. That’s not on the officials. That’s not on Stan. That’s on Dwight. Life’s tough. You’re a big guy. Sorry. Move on.”
I like where Smith is coming from with these comments. It’s frustrating as a NBA fan to see such a great player get taken out of the game because of whistles. I can only imagine how Magic fans, members of the organization, and Howard himself must feel about it. But saying it’s unfair won’t help Howard’s cause. If anything, it will only make it worse. It’s time for Howard and the Magic to stop focusing on what they think should be happening and do what they can to change what is happening.
If the Magic want to keep winning in the playoffs, they need to focus on the team playing against them and not the officials trying to call the game. Complaining about the referees might win them some sympathy from fans. Fan sympathy shouldn’t be what the Magic want right now. The goal is a championship. If the Magic want to be the last team standing in June, they have to put aside their feelings about the referees and make sure their focus is on beating whatever team they end up playing in the next round.