NBA: Shaq, Van Gundy still at it
ORLANDO, Fla. ó Stan Van Gundy walked into the Orlando Magic locker room Thursday morning, and before he could even prepare for practice, his players had a message.
“You better leave Shaq alone,” forward Rashard Lewis told him.
And with that, the Flop-Flap continued.
A day after Shaquille O’Neal called his former coach with the Miami Heat “a master of panic” and “a frontrunner,” Van Gundy responded by jokingly calling O’Neal a “very sensitive guy.” He said everyone needs to “consider the source” before taking the comments too seriously.
The Magic coach said he didn’t take O’Neal’s remarks personal, but admitted O’Neal may have gone too far ó even for his usual jokes.
“That’s not his normal comments,” Van Gundy said after Orlando’s practice Thursday. “Obviously I struck a nerve and hurt his feelings. Shaq’s a very sensitive guy. If I hurt his feelings, I’m sorry.”
The feud started after the Magic’s 111-99 win over O’Neal’s Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
O’Neal was guarding Magic center Dwight Howard with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter. Howard made a spin move, O’Neal fell in an apparent flop trying to get an offensive foul called, and Howard easily dunked with two hands.
Afterward, Van Gundy said he was surprised by O’Neal’s move. And of course, O’Neal responded.
The relationship between Van Gundy and O’Neal has been rocky for years.
Magic players defended their coach but refused to take a jab back at O’Neal.
“We like him,” Lewis said of Van Gundy. “I mean, sometimes we don’t because he screams and yells all the time, but that’s just a part of him being the coach. As long as we continue to win games, you can’t complain too much.”
Van Gundy said he was joking when he made the comments and didn’t lose any sleep when O’Neal responded. He considers the feud over, but realized O’Neal may again fire back.
“I started it. I made my comment,” Van Gundy said. “If you’re going to dish it out, you’ve got to be able to take it. And I can take it.”