Originally written on StraitPinkie.com  |  Last updated 11/9/14

The recent feud between Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard, which has been all over ESPN recently, is highlighting a major issue that has started to develop in all professional sports.  Superstar athletes are using their own contracts as blackmail to influence coaching decisions that should be made by the front office.  Many of these players’ wishes are not granted and usually the player is the one taking the walk, but is it only a matter of time before the hiring/firing of coaches has to go through a team’s superstar?

A few years ago in the NFL, Titans QB Vince Young became verbal about his coach Jeff Fisher.  After being benched by Fisher, Young offered the Titans an ultimatum.  Either Fisher would be fired or Young would no longer be a member of the Titans.  After investing a 3rd round pick in Young, it was viewed as unlikely that they would want to part with him.  However, the behavior that Vince Young demonstrated caused the Titans to release their once deemed franchise quarterback.  By voicing opposition to their coaches, superstar athletes not only put themselves in a bad position, but also destroy any sense of unity in the locker room.

Athletes are paid to execute in the game.  If they feel like their coaches are not putting them in a position to be successful, then that is a conversation they should have with the coach.  By turning to the media,  they throw their team into a frenzy and hinder any chance they had of making a championship run.  Ultimately, front offices should make it very clear to their players that they are NOT in a position to influence coaching decisions.  No matter how good a player might be, championships in professional sports are impossible to win without having  a unified and well coached team.

I like the approach that many GM’s are taking with getting rid of the problem players.  This can be challenging in the Dwight Howard situation because he is the heart and soul of the Orlando Magic.  If Howard really did try to get his head coach fired, the Magic should make the decision.  Is having Dwight Howard worth getting rid of a coach who has won 55+ games per year with the Magic?  Either way, the magic have yet to win a championship with Dwight or Van Gundy.  It is very sad that some players are able to have this amount of influence on their teams.  No matter how good a player is, they should realize that they are paid for performance, not consulting.

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