Stan Van Gundy Says Officials Are Unfairly Targeting Dwight Howard
The officials have singled out Howard, and they go out of their way to call technical fouls against him, according to Van Gundy.
Van Gundy was livid with the way Howard was treated by officials in Thursday night's 112-103 victory over the New York Knicks.
Howard leads the NBA in technical fouls, receiving his 12th of the season Thursday night, leaving him only four away from an automatic suspension.
"They (officials) are looking for him, no question. They make a call on him and they are looking for his reaction. Other guys get away with stuff. He's going to have to accept that, they are looking for him. Every one of them (officials),'' Van Gundy said. "For other guys, they look away. He's not going to be treated like everyone else in the league.''
Howard received the first technical of the game Thursday in the first quarter. Knicks center Amar'e Stoudemire received his in the second period. Stoudemire is second in the league with 10.
Late in the game, both coaches were warned by official James Capers that he was prepared to call a second technical, which would mean an automatic ejection, on both stars.
"He (Howard) got a technical for yelling 'damn,' because he was upset at himself. 'Damn,' is a technical but 'bulls**t' (which is what Stoudemire said to an official late in the game) is not?'' Van Gundy said. "Let me get this straight, 'damn' is a technical but 'bulls**t' is okay.''
Howard has been struggling with the issue of technical fouls for the past several years. He finished last season with 15, one short of the suspension. If he hits 16, then every second technical foul afterward will result in another one-game suspension.
The Magic, now on a five-game winning streak, have 49 games remaining.
"I just want to go out there and play like everybody else,'' said Howard. "Maybe I should learn sign language. I just have to play through it, and not let it affect the way I play. But it is very frustrating.''
Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds Thursday night, while Stoudemire had 30 points and four rebounds. Both players finished with five personal fouls.
Howard actually has had 14 technical fouls called against him this season, but two have been rescinded by the league office. The NBA notified teams this summer that they would be cracking down on outward displays of frustration toward officials this season, giving players plenty of warning.
"I could probably name you 20 guys in the league who are a lot harder on officials than he (Howard) is,'' Van Gundy continued. "Why he's been the guy to get all the technicals, I don't know. There are guys that yell at them, swear at them and everything else, and they get away with it some. Dwight just has to make an adjustment, and we'll go from there.''
Howard was considerably more restrained in his post-game comments about officials. Howard will be fined $5,000 each for his 11th and 12th technical fouls. From one to five, they cost $2,000 each. From six to 10, they are worth $3,000. A one-game suspension will cost him 1/82nd of his $16.5 million salary.
"I wear No. 12, so I'm stopping at 12,'' Howard joked. "I've been playing basketball long enough that there's no need for me to complain. They (officials) may not understand it.''
Although teammates in the past have said little about Howard's technical fouls, trying not to limit his emotions, they are growing more concerned as No. 16 approaches so quickly now.
"He has to be smarter than what he has been,'' said point guard Jameer Nelson. "The emotions we can show now are limited. We just can't afford for him to be missing games.''