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(Big C) Mike D?Antoni you have one year to get your act together pal. For two years you have made excuses and excuses have been made for you. We have heard everything from ?the team doesn?t have enough talent? to ?the players just don?t play with energy.? Two years have gone by and all we have seen is 50 and 53 losses. This is not going to cut it next year. Mike D?Antoni has not shown that he?s a better coach than Isiah Thomas (33 wins) or Don Chaney (37 wins). Without future Hall-of-Famer Steven Nash things on Mike D?Antoni?s side are looking as dark as the darkest nights in Gotham City.
When Mike D?Antoni was brought in as the Knicks coach we were told that he was a players? coach, however, what we have seen is quite the opposite. We have seen him bench Nate Robinson for a month, and put Hughes, Jordan Hill, Darko, and Douglas in exile while letting other players run wild in his ?Swish or Brick? system. Marbury and Robinson are great examples of what happens when a coach does not get along with a player. However, why did the rest of the players get shafted? Every player can?t be wrong. Players, like most employees, just want their roles to be defined.
The second big hype we heard was that Mike D?Antoni is a coach who could draw in big players because they would want to play for him. So far we have not seen that. In fact this off-season will not just be a test for Donnie Walsh but it will also show if players really want to play for Coach D?Antoni. It is easy for a player to say, ?I love Coach D?Antoni? when the question is asked in front of the media. What is a player suppose to say? ?I don?t like him? I hate his guts.? Well, maybe I should rephrase that. Who, outside of Amare Stoudemire, will volunteer a negative response? We also can?t assume, just because a player likes D?Antoni as a coach, that they do not like their current coach and team situation better.
One good thing that came from Mike D?Antoni this year my appreciation of a well trimmed mustache. Aside from that I can?t really think of anything. Oh wait, I take that back, the Knicks did looking good in the 3-2 zone this season.
Mike D?Antoni looked confused and erratic in everything from poor management of veteran players (like Jeffries and most importantly Chris Duhon) to playing favorites. Chris Duhon was allowed to miss shots as well turn the ball over. Yet he didn?t get any criticism in public. Yet Nate Robinson would get blasted immediately. Al Harrington was allowed to shoot until his hands started to bleed, while others were told to share the ball. And let?s not forget about David Lee being allowed to play mailbox defense.
Mike D?Antoni was supposed to be the team leader by setting the example. However, how is a player supposed to take game preparations seriously when his coach is joking around with opposing team players before games and even during games?
D?Antoni?s biggest blunder this season has to be letting Duhon run the point guard position for so long. The next biggest mistake was not adjusting to his players. D?Antoni failed to make new plays and design an offense that suits his players. Pat Riley was known for ?Showtime? with his Lakers. Yet when he became the Knicks coach he made them adjust to a defensive halfcourt mindset. Every team in the league learned how to shutdown the Knicks pick and roll plays. D?Antoni kept running those plays like a scratched CD on repeat. He also focused on outside shooting when the Knciks team is not stacked with shooters.
No, he?s no Pat Riley. However, nothing stopped D?Antoni from making adjustments. There is no reason why the Knicks couldn?t have more wins this season. When you see Scott Sklies bring his Bucks to the playoffs you have to wonder why couldn?t the Knicks at least have been close to a playoff shot.
Sklies could have easily run the same excuses, ?we have a rookie point guard? and ?not enough talent?. Instead Skiles got his young group to believe in defense and the winning. Coach Rick Aldelman of the Houston Rockets is another coach that did a decent job with the talent that he had, resulting in his Rockets playing above 500. in the West.
A teacher can not use ?I can?t teach because I have bad students? as an excuse. And the same goes for coaches. Nor should a coach be just collecting 6 million a year for doing nothing
Next season when the Knicks sign talented players the microscope will be on you Mr. Coach D?Antoni.
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