SERBY'S SUNDAY Q & A WITH...
Posted: 3:43 am
July 13, 2008
Steve Serby caught up with new KnicksNew York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni to talk a little about his past and his team's future.
Q: What won't you tolerate on and off the court?
A: Selfishness. That drives me crazy.
Q: How about off the court?
A: Selfishness. Because most players are who they are on and off the court. You do have some variance, but if you're a good guy off the court, you're usually a good guy on the court. In this business, we do have to put up with it to a certain degree, but if I can extinguish it or eliminate it, I would.
Q: You're big on character.
A: If I had to choose anything on a basketball court, character [would] be what you choose.
Q: You were a sophomore at Marshall when the football team perished in that tragic 1970 place crash.
A: My brother [Dan] was babysitting five kids or six kids of the doctor and his wife who were on the plane, and he was living behind their house at the time. They were like second parents to them . . . so, my brother hasn't seen the movie ["We Are Marshall"] yet, he can't do it. He gets real emotional.
Q: The campus was obviously shellshocked.
A: When you look at the list, there's 70 people on that list that you know . . . we live in the same dorm, you know them all . . . you kind of tend to focus on one or two that you're really close to . . . it was just so overwhelming . . . and you go to seven, eight funerals and it's just a period that . . . you get numb. It's just too much.
Q: Did you see the movie?
A: I thought it caught the spirit of it. Obviously it wasn't all like that, but thought the spirit was good, I thought it made Marshall look good which was good, and those people, so . . . happy with it.
Q: A quote about you in SI when you played for Marshall: "He is so clever with the ball that he seemingly can wink at a cheerleader at the same time he is whipping a pass to someone under the hoop."
A: I was a pretty good ballhandler . . . Pete Maravich kinda set the trend back then as a ballhandler.
Q: Did you ever wink at a cheerleader?
A: (Smile) I would have liked to have, but that would be embarrassing for me . . . I wouldn't have enough nerve to do that."
Q: Who said this: "I love it when the crowd goes wild at one of my passes. I guess there's a little hot dog in all of us."?
A: I have no idea. That wasn't me was it?
Q: That was you.
A: I don't know why I would say that other than just being young and dumb (chuckle).
Q: You played against Dr. J. in the ABA.
A: Just him doing a couple of things that had you just on the bench . . . falling off the chair almost.
Q: You've been called "the world's greatest contrarian."
A: And I think in a good sense (chuckle). In life, I just don't want to go with the norm. I just don't want to do it the way everybody's done it all the time . . . now, I will, if that's the smart thing to do, but I don't want to . . . I just want to do it differently.
Q: Your 14-year-old son Michael is a junior high school guard.
A: He's into computers like every other kid . . . but [I'm] really proud of him because his mom has really taught him to be mannerly.
Q: You loved Jerry West when the '69 champion KnicksNew York Knicks beat the Lakers.
A: I remember being heartbroken about it.
Q: Were you in awe when you played against him?
A: As a matter of fact, the first game I ever started in the NBA, I was guarding him. I was going crazy. And plus the first time I fouled him, he would start to [complain] . . . you know how you get, now you get competitive (chuckle). And how your idol, that goes away, now I want to kill him. I think it's a normal progression.
Q: First time you saw the Garden as a senior in the NIT?
A: Awestruck. Even now it doesn't change . . . when you walk out in that setting, you get a rush of adrenaline going through.
Q: Most humbling experience as an NBA player?
A: Probably the day that I got cut, where you go sit in the rocking chair for about two weeks and put a shawl on your shoulders.
Q: Most humbling experience as an NBA coach?
A: Getting fired.
Q: Freeze one moment from your playing career.
A: Probably the first time we won a European championship as a player.
Q: Bob McAdoo was one of your Milan teammates.
A: Best teammate anybody could ask for, a good friend.
Q: A funny anecdote about [No. 1 draft pick] Danilo Gallinari's father Vittorio, another Milan teammate?
A: One time he got knocked out in Brazil, he caught an elbow in the chin, and he was rooming with me. For two days, I thought he was gonna die, he was laying in bed. Every three or four hours I went back and checked on him . . . lights were off, he was laying in bed, he can't move for two days (chuckle).
Q: Freeze one moment from your coaching career.
A: Probably when we beat Dallas and knocked them out my first year of coaching Phoenix.
Q: Most bitter defeat?
A: First game against San Antonio this year in the playoffs [double overtime loss].
Q: A Steve Nash anecdote?
A: We played bad, and as a coach I'm coming in and I'm pretty steamed and ready to give a passionate speech or getting on them a little bit, and he just stands up and before I can say anything and just apologizes to the team and me . . . just a standup guy for everybody.
Q: A Shaq anecdote?
A: The only thing that I won't miss about him - he sweats so much, and as a coach, he'd always stand over top of me as I was doing a play or something . . . it literally felt like it was raining. My dry cleaning was out of sight just because of him . . . he was hilarious.
Q: No regrets about trading for him?
A: I'd do it again . . . I think we got stale as a team, and he helped.
Q: Boyhood idol?
A: Mickey Mantle. I remember, literally, couldn't wait to get the paper to see the box score. Then as I was a young man, probably Bill Bradley was the guy.
Q: Childhood memory?
A: Christmas morning, everybody waiting, coming down together.
Q: Best Christmas present?
A: Probably a bike.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Bill Clinton, Franklin Roosevelt, Michelangelo.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: "Cool Hand Luke."
Q: Favorite actor?
A: De Niro.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Ann Margret.
Q: Favorite entertainer?
A: Bruce Hornsby.
Q: Favorite book?
A: "The Agony and the Ecstasy." Just because I was able to kinda relive that story in Italy . . . Michelangelo, and all that stuff.
Q: Favorite meal?
Q: What will Knick fans be saying about the 2008 KnicksNew York Knicks ?
A: They're entertaining. . . . We do that by playing hard and by caring, by sharing the basketball, and by winning your share. I don't want to go out too far on a limb. But, at some point in I hope 2008, they'll want to come to see us.
Q: Quentin RichardsonQuentin Richardson , who played for you in Phoenix, recently said this about you: "He's impossible not to like."
A: (Chuckle) Obviously Quentin shot every time he wanted to.