Stan Van Gundy defends Dwight Howard, invites fine from Stern

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That’s going to cost Stan Van Gundy.

He probably thinks it’s money well spent. Monday, before Dwight Howard sat out the Magic’s loss due to a suspension for his 16th technical of the season, Magic coach Van Gundy came to Howard’s defense.

Van Gundy went with the argument that has been used for Shaq, Kareem, probably George Mikan back in the day, saying they take a lot more punishment than most players. The Orlando Sentinel gives us the goods.

Citing a statistic he credited to the Elias Sports Bureau, Van Gundy said Howard has been fouled 593 times this season and that none of the opponents who committed those infractions has received a flagrant foul on any of those plays.

“You guys can estimate how many of those were hard hits and how many of those were above the shoulders,” Van Gundy said to reporters after the Magic completed their shootaround.

“And for him to retaliate as few times as he has? By the way, not one of those 593 hits, with so many of those being above the shoulders and hard, not one has been deemed a flagrant foul. Not one. Five hundred and ninety-three. Amazing restraint for those guys to hit him that hard and not go over the line and get a flagrant foul. Getting no protection from the referees, he’s only retaliated from that a handful of times.”

Van Gundy went on and on about beating up people on a treadmill to make his point. He kind of started to lose us there.

He really lost us with this quote, from the Associated Press, where Van Gundy gets in his dig at Stern.

“This is the system David Stern and his minions like it,” Van Gundy said. “So that’s the system you have…I certainly can’t have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot or leaders we’ve seen in this world lately, don’t really tolerate other people’s opinion or free speech or anything. So I’m not really allowed to have an opinion. So it’s up to him.”

“He decides and he likes the system he has.”

Um, okay, you lost me. I’m not Stern’s biggest fan, but to compare him to power hungry Middle Eastern dictators who kill the opposition? That’s too far. David Stern is not Moammar Gadhafi.

That will get your fined. But your point about Howard is taken.