Mike D’Antoni’s honeymoon phase with the New York Knicks ended quite early; but predictably. The New York Knicks always seemed for a loss with Mike D’Antoni’s offensive schemes. And even though he left the New York Kicks with fully paid $24 million paycheck while still a year short on his original contract, Mike D’Antoni acknowledges "I shouldn't have gone to New York."
Mike D’Antoni recently stated that he regrets leaving the Phoenix Suns in a haste, especially losing the prospect of grooming the team’s point guard Steve Nash, who was still in his prime.
"I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over,” said Mike D’Antoni, who left after developing a clear rift in opinions with the Phoenix Suns executives. “You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn't have left. That was my fault."
"I should have stuck in there and battled. You don't get to coach somebody like him (Steve Nash) too many times,” Mike D’Antoni stressed on the primary reason behind rethinking the whole Phoenix Suns departure. “It's pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn't."
For long, the Phoenix Suns then general manager Steve Kerr believed Mike D’Antoni should hire a defensive assistant and insistently proposed Tom Thibodeau for the job. But Mike D’Antoni had his own way. Tom Thibodeau eventually landed a role on Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers’ coaching staff as they went on to win the NBA Championship and twice contest in the playoffs Finals in a span of three years. Mike D’Antoni left the Phoenix Suns after the team lost the Round 1 series to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2008.
"I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That's why I left. We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time,” said Mike D’Antoni. “Maybe we weren't good enough either. We have to understand that.”
However within six weeks, then New York Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh signed Mike D’Antoni to a hefty four-year contact. But against Donnie Walsh’s hopes, Mike D’Antoni failed to revive that part of the New York Knicks game as he struggled to run the backcourt without Steve Nash.
Donnie Walsh had perceived that given Mike D’Antoni’s connections with the USA basketball team he will be able to draw free agents to the New York Knicks. But in the summer of 2010, future MVP LeBron James and Dwyane Wade headed to Miami Heat. And the New York Knicks seemingly over-paid Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract as well. Additionally, Mike D’Antoni continued solely focusing on the offense which forced the New York Knicks management to suggest he hired a defensive coach, which ultimately played out to be his successor Mike Woodson.
After going for a 121-167 record over three seasons with the New York Knicks and the team failing to claim a single championship, Mike D’Antoni resigned last March.
He was planned to stay away from coaching for a whole year, but took the Los Angeles Lakers job anyway for a chance to coach Steve Nash, with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol falling coming in the package too.
So far, the Los Angeles Lakers have won only two games under Mike D’Antoni, but he hopes for things to improve once Steve Nash returns from a fractured leg.