Found May 22, 2012 on Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest:

Mike D’Antoni spoke yesterday for the first time since he resigned as the Knicks head coach. In a one-on-one interview with Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated, D’Antoni discussed his decision to step down as the Knicks head coach this past March. It was usual D’Antoni- he was self-deprecating and had his dry sense of humor on display.

Reading between the lines it was clear that D’Antoni knew he couldn’t motivate the same Knicks club that Mike Woodson led to the playoffs. They had finally tuned out his message and he knew it that on that March 14th afternoon.

It also was revealed that D’Antoni didn’t believe he was going to have his contract renewed at the end of the season. The Garden basically spent $24 million dollars for a transitional coach. That is what D’Antoni always was going to be the minute they blew up his first roster two weeks into his tenure. It was solidified when Lebron James took his talents to South Beach. D’Antoni took money over a chance to win.

When Donnie Walsh was hired in the spring of 2008 everyone knew his goal was to release the Knicks from salary cap hell and make a run at Lebron. After nearly a decade of pretending to build a contender under Isiah Thomas, Walsh would do the painful thing- the task that everyone says can’t be done in New York- and bottom the roster out. That’s why I found it curious when he made the decision to bring in D’Antoni as the head coach over Mark Jackson.

The process was sound. Walsh needed a high-profile coach that could recruit Lebron James. It didn’t hurt that his offensive style was exciting, and would probably sell some tickets along the way. The hiring was necessary but built on a shallow foundation.

D’Antoni was the opposite of every successful coach in team history. Holzman, Riley and Van Gundy preached defense first. The 90s was built on the Knicks exposing talented offensive teams- like D’Antoni’s Phoenix club- through their physical play. Now the Knicks were going to be the fancy Ferrari instead of the hard-nosed Silverado. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t feel right. In the end the gut instinct was correct.

His first roster actually had a decent trio of Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford and David Lee.  They started 6-3, and there was some thought the speedball offense could possibly turn Isiah’s trash into a treasure. On November 21st, 2008 the rebuilding program began. Walsh traded Crawford and Randolph, and the process of becoming cap-friendly was underway. Any chance D’Antoni would have at succeeded was now in the hands of Lebron James, who was two years away from free agency. .

It’s amazing that through 3.5 seasons as coach D’Antoni had a stable roster for about a half a season: in 2010-2011 before the Carmelo Anthony trade. That team finished 42-40 and had some potential, but the lack of interior defense meant they were no better than a six seed and, at best, maybe win a first round series.

It would have been interesting to see how this year’s roster would have turned out with a point guard from day one. The Heat are proving this postseason to be vulnerable. The Knicks are no worse than Boston, Atlanta and Indiana. It was amazing that Woodson navigated them through a long stretch without a legitimate floor general.

D’Antoni got what he wanted when he took the Knicks job: money. His 4 year/$24 million dollar deal put him among some of the riches coaches in sports. Everyone thought he was going to take the Bulls job, which would have landed him Derek Rose and a far more talented roster. Who knows, perhaps he finally would have his championship if he decided to spurn the Garden dollars for the Windy City.

The Knicks got a high-profile coach they thought could recruit Lebron. I don’t think anyone believed he was going to be the man that would end the Knicks title drought. Defense and rebounding wins NBA championships. D’Antoni teams are not known for either of those characteristics. The funny thing is even Lebron knew he had a better chance at winning with Pat Riley than D’Antoni.

Should we feel sorry for D’Antoni? No. He was compensated very well to be the Knicks caretaker. Agree with his style or not, he still played a part in moving the organization in the right direction. Now it’s time for someone to get them to the next level- a championship level. Phil Jackson would have been the ideal choice, but Woodson aligns more with the Garden politics. In any event, he seemed to connect with Anthony and coaches a defensive style that is more conducive to winning in the postseason.

Mike D’Antoni is a fun regular season basketball act. His teams will score points and bring the crowd to their feet. When it comes to what really matters- championships- it’s hard to see any one of his teams taking home the hardware. He didn’t even practice defense; that was the off-the-record quote from a long-time D’Antoni player a few years ago.

The promises are over. The fans got a taste of what the Garden was in the 90s. They don’t want to hear about cap room, rebuilding or next year. They want to win now. They want meaningful playoff games in 2013. This city has been denied meaningful basketball for far too long.

Mike D’Antoni was never going to be a part of that. He wouldn’t have been saved by Lebron James because the expectations would have been even higher. Could you imagine a first round sweep against Boston with King James? He wouldn’t have survived it.

In the end D’Antoni was doomed to fail. At least he was compensated handsomely for it.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

LeBron James and The Truth About Choking

If you worked at 80% efficiency every second of every work day, would you be satisfied? 80%. That’s average, right? Wouldn’t that be acceptable? Your 80% may be a lot better than mine. The genius in the cubicle beside you might only need to work at 50% efficiency in order to get the same amount of work done. Still, for most of us, 80% would be a solid effort. We would all admit...
MAGIC JOHNSON-ESQUE

LeBron's amazing no-look assist to D-Wade

Check out how well LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can play together when things are clicking. That’s some Magic Johnson no look stuff right there, but on PEDs. Yeah, this team definitely needs to break up.

Column: Same skills, new mindset for LeBron?

(Eds: With AP Photos.) By JIM LITKE AP Sports Columnist Spectacular as it seemed, it was nothing we haven't seen from LeBron James before. Maybe that's the funny thing about all the hoopla over James' performance in Game 4 of the Pacers-Heat series. Because for once, it wasn't just his talent that deserved the spotlight, but his maturity. The question, after all...

LeBron Comes Through At Crucial Time For Heat

Over the last week Miami Heat All-Star LeBron James has been criticized endlessly by fans of the Association as well as by the media; including on these pages. After being presented the 2012 NBA MVP Trophy by Commissioner David Stern last Sunday, James certainly did not look like an MVP as his team fell behind the Indiana Pacers 2-1 in their series after Chris Bosh was injured...

The Unsatisfying Triumph Of Excellence

The UnlovedFirst things first: LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, and it's not even really close.Sure, there are flaws to the game. His free throw shooting is a little dicey. He's prone to turnovers. He can defer too much, especially in late and close situations, possibly due to the free throw worries. But there's no more versatile player, no one...

James, Wade in sync in Heat's rout of Pacers

MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James scored 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 28, and the Miami Heat moved a win away from another trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-83 victory over the suddenly hurting Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. James added 10 rebounds and eight assists. Shane Battier scored 13 and Mario Chalmers had eight points and 11 rebounds. The Heat lead the best-of...

James, Wade combine for 70 points in Heat victory

INDIANAPOLIS -- This time, the power of two was enough. With power forward Chris Bosh still out with a lower-abdominal strain, the Miami Heat's tag team of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade landed the equivalent of a shot to the gut to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon with a 101-93 victory over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "You get the ball out of one of those...

They Can Stand The Heat

It was just last Thursday that the Miami Heat were written off for dead.  LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were the least-clutch superstars ever.  The sky was falling.  Less than a week later, things done changed.LeBron has shown why he is the best player in the world, averaging 35 points, 14 rebounds, 8.5 assists over the past two games.  Wade has shown why he is the best "...

Jay Pharoah Performs Stephen A. Smith Impression on 'Saturday Night Live,' Gives Advice to LeBron James (Video)

Jay Pharoah generally does a solid job on Saturday Night Live, but his impression of ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith was especially funny. Pharoah had Smith's mannerisms, voice inflection and personal stories down to a tee, which drew plenty of laughter from the audience. As part of the skit, Pharoah gave advice to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Acting as Smith, he revealed that...

Failing to Exist

It was the choke seen ’round the world.  Seen by everyone except the one man it was aimed at, LeBron James.  And who was the one that fired off that shot?  Some guy named Lance Stephenson.  Who is that you might ask?  Well, he’s just some guy.  Some guy that plays on the Pacers…well, is [...]

Five NBA Players Who Could Make It In The NFL

The NBA playoffs are in full force right now, and it's interesting and sometimes fun to wonder how athletes might fair if they played another professional sport. Since many athletes played multiple sports as late as high school or college before choosing the one they had the best chance to go pro in, many of the skills they had in other sports may not have eroded much and could...

May The Rings Be Never In His Favor

This video (courtesy of That NBA Lottery Pick) is one of the least exciting we’ve ever posted, but it’s newsworthy because LeBron James read Young Adult super-novel The Hunger Games before Sunday’s Heat-Pacers Game Four in Indianapolis, dropped 40 points and evened the series at two games apiece. It’s the best remedial reading basketball performance since Vlade Divac cried...

Heat 101, Pacers 93

INDIANAPOLIS -- This time, the power of two was enough. With power forward Chris Bosh still out with a lower-abdominal strain, the Miami Heat's tag team of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade landed the equivalent of a shot to the gut to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon with a 101-93 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. James closed with 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.