In one of the least surprising developments in recent memory, Orlando relieved GM Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy of their respective duties yesterday, firings that immediately led to Jerry Sloan throwing his hat in the ring to replace Van Gundy. Taking umbrage at SVG being sacked via cell phone, the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz all but calls Magic CEO Alex Martins a liar, writing, “anybody who doesn’t think this has everything to do with keeping Howard long-term hasn’t been following one of the most bizarre stories in sports.”|

Martins said Howard wanted no part of evaluating Van Gundy’s job performance. I think Dwight already gave his recommendation several times, although Martins denies Howard ever telling him he wanted Stan pink-slipped.

“Dwight never asked me for Stan to be fired,” Martins said.

But Martins knew. He knew because owner Rich DeVos knew. DeVos told me himself that Howard had gone to management.

The job also requires that you don’t tell the media that the superstar actually wants you fired. Van Gundy did – and that was Stan being Stan.

No other coach in the league was as brutally honest and entertaining. He was funny and fearless and relentless and maniacal.

Every game on the sideline was Shakespeare in the park with Stan. He lived and died with each possession. He worked himself to exhaustion. He wanted to win – more than some of his players did. He defended Howard more than he chastised him.

Did Stan wear on players? Absolutely. Did he make them better? Absolutely.