From the start, Mike D’Antoni’s personality and coaching philosophy never seemed to be a good fit in New York and now after all this time — not to mention the $24 million contract he pocketed — the former Knicks head coach admits “I shouldn’t have gone to New York.”
In an interview with ESPN.com, D’Antoni regrets leaving the Phoenix Suns because he left the club with point guard Steve Nash still in his prime.
“I should have stuck in there and battled,” D’Antoni told the website. “You don’t get to coach somebody like him (Nash) too many times. It’s pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn’t.”
D’Antoni and the Suns parted ways after Phoenix lost a first round series to the San Antonio Spurs in 2008. D’Antoni was upset that then-general manager Steve Kerr was pushing him to hire a defensive assistant.
A year earlier, Kerr suggested Tom Thibodeau for the job but D’Antoni resisted. Thibodeau eventually joined Doc Rivers’ staff and the Boston Celtics went on to win the NBA Championship and reach the Finals twice in three years.
“I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That’s why I left,” D’Antoni said. “We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren’t good enough either. We have to understand that.
“I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn’t have left. That was my fault.”
Within six weeks, Donnie Walsh hired D’Antoni when it appeared that Mark Jackson was the favorite for the job. D’Antoni was an interesting choice because Walsh was more of a traditionalist who believed in having a team with a strong defensive foundation. D’Antoni, though, believed his system would work in New York even without Nash at the controls.
Also, Walsh was led to believe that D’Antoni’s system would attract free agents to the Knicks, especially those whom he coached with USA Basketball. But when the summer of 2010 arrived, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade headed to Miami.
The Knicks overpaid for Amar’e Stoudemire, giving him a five-year, $100 million contract, even though reports had surfaced that D’Antoni had grown weary of coaching Stoudemire in Phoenix. In fact, before Stoudemire signed, he and D’Antoni met for breakfast at the coach’s house.
D’Antoni’s also lived up to his reputation of a coach that cared little about defense. By the end of his third year, Garden management ordered him to hire a defensive coach who turned out to be his successor, Mike Woodson.
via NY Daily News
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