Bill Carey
Friday May 25th, 2012

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy, Orlando Magic Dwight Howard denied having anything to do with the Orlando Magic's recent firing of coach Stan Van Gundy. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard said he was not involved in the decision to fire coach Stan Van Gundy and his back "is doing a lot better," according to an interview posted on TMZ.com.

"Me and Stan, we had our ups and downs," Howard said in the video taken as he walked on a sidewalk. "But for the most part, we had one goal and that was to win a championship in Orlando. And we fell short."

He added: "I hate to see anybody lose their job...I'm glad (Magic CEO) Alex Martins came out and confirmed that I had nothing to do with it."

Strains in the relationship between Howard and Van Gundy became public in April when Van Gundy confirmed a report that Howard had asked for him to be fired. Howard denied the claim.

Van Gundy was fired by the team on Monday.

Howard suffered a back injury late in the season that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season. He will also be out for this summer's Olympics. Howard said in the TMZ video that he is "happy with the progress" he has made in his recovery.

Howard has one year left on his contract, and a report yesterday said that the Magic had decided to trade Howard this offseason. Two sources within the Magic organization told the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins the report was inaccurate. On the video, Howard also offered his predication for this year's NBA champion: He's taking the Thunder.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.