Bob Vander Weide Rumors
Tony Ronzone, the former assistant GM in Detroit and Minnesota, also is a free agent and sources say he’d be amenable to joining a revamped Magic front office with Bower in the lead role. Thus far, Martins has not reached out to any potential candidates as he settles into his new role, but sources believe the direction of the team — and Howard’s fickle approach when it comes to staying or leaving — could prime the pump for sweeping changes.
With the future of the franchise teetering on Howard’s decision, multiple people plugged into league front-office dealings say it’s no sure thing that Smith, the GM, will be the one making the final decision on whether to trade Howard and where. With the resignation of Bob Vander Weide and promotion of Alex Martins to CEO, rival executives believe Martins is the one calling the shots. And among those shots could be adding to the Orlando front office, which is thin by NBA standards behind Smith. The most experienced and capable candidate on the market is former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, who has solid relationships with the Magic front office staff. Bower also worked with Martins in New Orleans.
Howard was asked about the infamous phone call he received from former Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide. Vander Weide conceded he might have had a few too many drinks when he dialed up Dwight. Howard wouldn’t reveal the conversation or say Bob was tipsy, but cracked, “Do they have phone breathalyzers?”
WFTV reporter Daralene Jones proceeded to read a supposed transcript of the conversation and asked Vander Weide if he had said those words. But the conversation that Jones had referenced was taken from a parody written on the website Deadspin. Bob Jordan, the station’s news director, supported Jones when asked to comment Wednesday. “I looked at Deadspin today,” Jordan said. “Oftentimes, fact is sometimes is woven into satires. It’s one of the techniques journalists sometimes use. Daralene did not report that he said something specifically. She just asked him to comment on something in cyberspace.”
When the floor opened for questioning, Daralene Jones from Orlando’s Channel 9 asked Vander Weide about that phone call. Their exchange got tense. “Did you drunk dial Dwight Howard?” Jones asked. No I didn’t,” Vander Weide said. “And let me just make this statement once on that phone call.” Jones interjected: “You called him, but you weren’t drunk?”
Vander Weide said he and Howard share a close relationship, saying the two “like each other, even love each other, as people.” The former Magic CEO said that the phone conversation had nothing to do with his retirement, which was for personal reasons.
A local television reporter did not beat around the bush, immediately asking if Vander Weide had “drunk-dialed” Howard, in those terms. Vander Weide took the time to be clear on the subject. To begin, Vander Weide said that he had been texting back and forth with Howard over several hours. He then said that he was not intoxicated when he dialed Howard during a game of “paddles” with friends, saying he had had “two-to-three glasses of wine” over several hours. “We need to be clear on this,” Vander Weide said, “that phone conversation has not changed my relationship with Dwight.”
Jones made one last effort to extract details from the departing CEO: “Clear it up for us: what did you say when you called him?” “I told you,” he said. “I’m not talking about my conversation.” “Why?” After a split-second pause: “Those are private.”
But Jones continued pressing Vander Weide on the subject, asking him if he recalled saying the following on the phone call. Note that the reporter is quoting verbatim from Deadspin’s fictional, satirical transcript of what the conversation might have been like. “Do you recall saying ‘Me and Otis and Stan [Van Gundy], we don’t want you to go anywhere. We suck without you. Everyone knows. We’ve got nothing else. Orlando is a terrible place, and we’ve got the Amway thing, but who the [“f”] cares?’ Do you recall saying any of that?” Jones asked. “I will not talk specifics of conversations with our players,” Vander Weide said. “The people of Orlando spent a lot of money on this new venue,” the reporter went on. “They would probably like to know if you’re out there trashing the city. Can you answer that question?” “I can easily answer that,” Vander Weide said, his voice becoming sharp. “For 21 years, I have tried to put this community first. And for the remaining years of my life, Orlando will be a home for me. And I would never trash Orlando.”
I’m gonna finish my statement, please,” said Vander Weide. “Social event. We play paddle up in the Midwest. I had a couple glasses of wine. I had received texts and phone calls from Dwight and thought it prudent still to return the call. I was not drunk. I had had two, maybe three glasses of wine over three hours. “And–you need to be clear on this, that phone conversation has not changed my relationship with Dwight. We like each other. We even love each other, as people. He’s always reached out to me. That phone call has not changed his feeling about this organization. And third, maybe not as important, that phone conversation has nothing to do with us being here today.”
Vander Weide confirmed he had a late-night conversation with Dwight on Monday after playing paddle tennis with friends and having a couple of glasses of wine. Contrary to reports, Vander Weide told the Sentinel he wasn’t intoxicated but admitted “maybe he should have waited until the next morning” to return Dwight’s phone calls. He went on to say the conversation with Dwight was “amicable … candid … not aggressive … not negative.”
“It was just time,” Vander Weide said during a phone conversation with the Sentinel Tuesday. “… I realized I had other aspirations outside of just pursuing trophies.”
A source close to the DeVos family indicated to BHSN there may have been marital problems between Vander Weide and his wife Cheri, who happens to be the daughter of Magic owner Rich DeVos. Vander Weide denied any plan of a separation in his marraige. “There is no divorce,” Vander Weide told BHSN. “Part of the reason for me to step down is to put more of a focus on family. I have five kids; two in college, a 15-year-old, 13-year-old and nine-year-old and they deserve more attention than I have been able to give them in the past few years.”
Howard and Vander Weide have always had a solid relationship, according to Vander Weide. “We have a very good relationship,” he said, also noting that Dwight’s intentions are to see the Magic improve this season. “I have a pretty clear understanding where Dwight’s head is and that’s between him and this organization.”
Vander Weide confirmed that he made a 1 a.m. phone call in recent days to Magic superstar Dwight Howard, and Howard thought Vander Weide may have been intoxicated. On that call, Vander Weide told Howard how much the Magic wanted to keep him in Orlando. “I was playing paddle with friends and had a couple of glasses of wine,” Vander Weide told BHSN. “Maybe Dwight thought it was inappropriate to talk business after a couple of glasses of wine… Maybe I should have waited until the morning.”
Martins said Vander Weide’s decision to step down has nothing to do with Howard, who can become a free agent after the 2011-12 season. Martins said Vander Weide had been planning to step down for months but wanted to wait until the NBA’s labor dispute was resolved.