Before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks ago, head coach Mike D’Antoni was recovering from knee replacement surgery and uncertain about his immediate future in the NBA after an ugly divorce with the New York Knicks.
The five-year stint with the Phoenix Suns was considered a success for D’Antoni and enough to interest teams around the league in his services. The Knicks gave D’Antoni an offer that he apparently couldn’t refuse.
The Suns were one of the best teams in the Western Conference in D’Antoni’s final year in Phoenix going 55-27 in the regular season, but the playoff struggles year after year became too frustrating for D’Antoni to handle and led to his departure with the Knicks willing to embrace him with open arms.
Apparently, D’Antoni regrets his decision to leave Steve Nash and company back in 2008 via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“I shouldn’t have gone to New York,” he says, looking down at the sideline in Memphis, pacing on that unstable right leg.
“I should have stuck in there and battled. 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’s struggles got progressively worse in New York as he was never able to get the team on track.
During his three and half seasons with the Knicks, D’Antoni led New York to 121 wins and 167 losses. The short stint was disappointing to say the least and only got uglier with Carmelo Anthony in the fold and the craziness of Linsanity.
D’Antoni decided to leave the Knicks 42 games into 2011-12 NBA season. The frustration began to mount on a much bigger level in New York and D’Antoni felt it was time to step away from coaching for a while.
Ironically enough, now D’Antoni is in Los Angeles and under similar pressure in comparison to New York in many ways. The media frenzy that goes along with being in a huge market, constant criticism and an overwhelming pressure to win immediately.
Hopefully, for the sake of the Lakers franchise and its dedicated fan base, D’Antoni hasn’t made the same mistake in Los Angeles that he made by heading to New York. Only time will tell if the new head coach can turn this team around and implement his style of offense with the same success with Nash leading the way in Phoenix.
We think Dwight’s been practicing his Mr. Mackey impersonation. Tell us what you think in the comments below!