You could surely make a case that baseball manager Fredi Gonzalez has more pressing issues at hand with the Atlanta Braves, losers of their first three games, than to worry about players in the NBA flexing muscles in order to get their coaches fired.
But the second year manager of the Braves stepped away from the baseball diamond Saturday morning and voiced his concerns to reporters about what had occurred Thursday morning when Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy met with writers and said that NBA All-Star Dwight Howard wanted him fired.
Howard and the team’s general manager dispute that claim.
Gonzalez reached out by phone to his good friend, and former neighbor in Miami, Van Gundy, to see if everything was alright.
“I asked him how it's going and then he said, ‘You guys need to score some runs,’” Gonzalez said of Van Gundy, who reminded the Braves skipper of his opening day loss.
Gonzalez is no stranger to problems with star players while the manager for the then Florida Marlins. He benched Hanley Ramírez for not playing hard during a game in May 2010 and was later dismissed over a month later after the spat.
“I think the owner has to step up and sign Stan for a couple more years, unless Howard wants to take a pay cut and be the coach,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he told Van Gundy he wished more ex-players or ex-coaches owned teams, referring to Magic Johnson, because “the dynamics of player and coach relationship” would then be better understood. He said that Van Gundy told them that could not happen because a lot of former coaches and players were not wealthy enough to own teams.
The Braves manager had his own message for Howard, who opted into next year's contract with the Magic.
“If he's really worried about winning, take a pay cut. Go less money and get more players. Bet he won't do that,” Gonzalez said.
Just how would he have responded if any star asked for Gonzalez’s job?
“I know what I would have said if he'd have walked into my office if I was the owner: Get your (butt) back on the court and play,” said Gonzalez. “We'll let the guys coach. You play.”
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc