Where as, the case against Coach Mike DAntoni is much more contested. Many within the Suns community and many more in the broader NBA commentariat defend him against the growing clamor for his head to be mounted on one of the many palm trees that line Central Ave in downtown Phoenix.
Therefore we hereby assemble the NBA Blogosphere Star Chamber to sit in judgment of the fate of Coach Mike D'Antoni
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 6:38 AM PDT ]
The Evidence for the Prosecution - presented by Phoenix Stan
Before us now is the question of continued employment as Head Coach of Mr. Mike D'Antoni. Coach D is a beloved figure among media and players and is highly regarded for breathing new life into both the Phoenix Suns and the entire NBA with his new up-tempo style. He and his lovely wife are well regarded and wonderful people.
The issue before us however, is his failure to deliver on his primary responsibility - having his team prepared to play hard every night. Refusal to develop a deeper rotation did lead to limited options in crucial situations but more importantly contributed to his inability to hold players accountable for their lack of energy and effort. His inability to coach and create a defensive philosophy and his inability to overcome innate stubbornnes to make adjustments in playoff series further contributed to a gross under performance of his team. Great coaches are recognized for "doing more with less". Coach D'Antoni has done less with more and needs to go.
The Opening Statements by the Defense - presented by Zona "Johnny Cochrane" Flash, Blog Esquire
First, we agree that D'Antoni is incompetent, dangerous to the team and should be fired immediately. Besides high school basketball coaches are not hard to find.
However, as for Head Coach Mike D'Antoni, the defense will show that the crimes presented by the prosecution
- relate solely to GM Mike D'Antoni and not Head Coach D'Antoni, as pointed out by Public Defender JSun. No coach wants to develop a bench, it is the GM's job to force them to do it.
- that the coach cannot be compared to Popovich or Jackson who have more secure contract positions. Pop and Jackson have the luxury to sacrifice wins without the risk of being fired, D'Antoni has already been fired once for not winning, like most coaches.
- that D'Antoni's stubbornness is, for the most part, warranted by his seniority and success - he is not some 40 year old former college player with no prior coaching experience.
- Coach Mike D'Antoni is just a scape goat for a series of bad personnel moves that included mistakes by GM Colangelo, GM D'Antoni, GM Kerr and tax-dodging Owner Robert Sarver.
- that Coach D'Antoni is a great handler of player egos, is a genius at turning junk players into respectable players by maximizing their talents, is still one of the best coaches in the NBA and one of the best ever that the Suns have had and deserves a lot of the credit for the past three years success.
In Conclusion, the Defense is personally and completely offended by the outrageous, libelous, slanderous, baseless, and ungrateful claims made by the Prosecution. The Prosecution ought to be stripped of its rights to blog in the NBA and in a free America. Douchebag.
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 8:14 AM PDT ]
Tell me Mr. Zona Cochrane that you did not just debase the memory of your vainglorious namesake in such a crude and ignorant manner! I can take your petty insults as sign of your incivility and lack of wit or creativity, but I can not let stand the complete illogic of your argument.
Any attempt to separate "Coach" D'Antoni from "GM" D'Antoni is laughable at best and a gross disservice and injustice to your client. If the decision is wrong, he must be gone.
[Note by ZonaFlash, 04/30/08 11:51 AM EDT ]
Frankly, Phoenix Stan, it has been clear in your blog tenure that you cannot grasp even passing wit, much less true creativity, but only petty insults. Hence, douchebag, you Douchebag.
For your sake, I will explain it to you like you are a six year old.
Except for a few coaches like Pat Riley and Greg Popovich, no coach has much job security. They are fired at the first sign of trouble, be it a protracted losing streak or the capriciousness of an Owner or GM that is trying to find a scapegoat.
Therefore, ALL less privileged coaches all look very myopically to achieve wins rather than developing players. If you gave them more security, perhaps you might see development of longer term projects. Further, if you do not have a strong GM like Joe Dumars, then you cannot override the coaches' impulses and force them to develop a bench as the Pistons have.
Forcing D'Antoni to take over GM responsibilities because Sarver stupidly pulled the plug on BC without at backup plan was a disaster. Incidentally, not nearly enough blame for the decisions made then have gone to wonderboy David Griffin during that era where Griffin had the day-to-day GM responsibilities and D'Antoni had the title. Further, you had no true GM to override D'Antoni's coaching survival instincts.
Sounds like a problem with the owner - D'Antoni was framed.
And for the record, GM D'Antoni IS gone. In America we do not believe in Double Jeopardy. Stick to the here and now, which is coaching issues. How can you fault D'Antoni for being exactly like every coach without job security in the NBA in his loathing to develop a bench?
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 9:29 AM PDT ]
Do they teach reading comprehension at the third-world madrassa you attend there in Chapel Hill, NC? Let me help you. My point is not that Coach D should "develop the bench" so that players like Pike and Marks and Rookieberry get better. My point is that he should use the bench to hold his players accountable for their lacktion during the regular season. Do not put JVG's words in my keyboard.
How many times do we need to hear the "we didn't play with energy or passion tonight" excuse before he realizes that playing with energy and passion isn't some mysterious thing brought on by the same forces that turn night into day.
Where's the accountability? Speaking of which, I see that playing nice with all the Spurs trolls has diluted your ability to use anything other then the "douchebag" card. Nice.
Let me just demonstrate how accountability works: You just said "How can you fault D'Antoni for being exactly like every coach " which begs the question - how can you consider him so great if he's acting like "every other coach". See, that's me holding you accountable for being inconsistent and hypocritical.
My friend, I suggest you bring your A game to this fight and not your game 3 level of energy and passion. I will leave you to lick your wounds and ponder this for a few hours while I attend to more important challenging things then destroying your arguments.
[Note by ZonaFlash, 04/30/08 12:48 PM EDT ]
Ouch. Touche, you douche!
I said, thus far, only on one dimension is D'Antoni like common coaches - and that is his contract. Ironically, the solution may be to extend Coach D'Antoni, not fire him.
Let's move on to the new accusation:
#2 Failing to hold players accountable.
It's ironic, but the energy mantra puts more responsibility on the players, not less. Players in the D'Antoni system are unable to make excuses for poor play except to say it is lack of effort. Unlike you, no player is entitled to touches.
The D'Antoni system features great play enabling confidence in players when they earn it, or career damaging diffidence when they don't. You could say his accountability system was among the most extreme in the NBA. The players that earn it, and they all had chances, benefit and perform better than they would in any other system or for any other coach.
Was Marcus Banks held accountable for his play? Yes, to the extreme. Jumaine Jones? Check. Jalen Rose? Check.
Now you may want Larry Brown/Isaiah Thomas type day-to-day fickleness and call that great player motivation, but I am not sorry to disappoint you. Making players tentative makes them accountable weaklings.
Put the best players on the floor? It's hard to argue with Meritocracy, but I know you'll try.
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 2:21 PM PDT ]
I see why you heart Coach D so much. You share his stubborn regard for reality. Let me try just one more time and then move on down the long long list.
When star players like Amare or Diaw are playing with "no energy or passion" in November and December you bench them. In the process you tell them and publically demonstrate that you and the team will not tolerate such behavior. This is a concept explained to me and the millions who have watched the Suns home TV feed by former players Dan Marjerle, Eddie Johnson and Tom Chambers who know a thing or two about playing for great coaches and playing with great and sometimes moody star players. This is not about whether Marcus Banks deserves more floor time then Leandro Barbosa. This is about not allowing Leandro Barbosa to give a half-assed effort in the fall and then expect him to deliver in the spring.
In the Army we called this concept "train as you fight".
You say confidence. I say hubris. Yes, you are right that shooters need confidence to shoot. And if you believe that having a team full of confident shooters is the key to a championship playoff success getting out of the first round then I suppose Coach D is your man. You know exactly what you'll get.
The problem is your man crossed the line and drank his own Kool-Aid . Instead of making adjustments after getting beat in games 1 and 2 he continued to insist that his was the better team. If you think you are the better team why would you do anything to get better. He was delusional and deluded his players and when they realized it they stopped playing for him. The true measure of a head coach is getting his guys to go through a brick wall for him. I don't think we saw a team willing to do that.
I am not buying that D'Antoni wasn't on board with the Shaq trade. Unless he is a brilliant liar then he was right there per his own repeated words. And if he wasn't, he should have insisted against it and made his opposition clear. He at least has shown the balls not to back down from that blunder. Don't disrespect him by calling him a liar.
Here's a thought.
Wouldn't it be cool if D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns played with as much energy and passion as we give to debating D'Antoni and the Phoenix Suns?
[Note by ZonaFlash, 04/30/08 6:39 PM EDT ]
Calm down - you're about as hysterical as girl when who's fave Clay Aiken lost on American Idol.
Given the raw materials on D'Antoni's bench, benching Amare and/or Diaw would have been a laughable show, not a credible threat. Certainly they teach you military types that only credible, communicable threats count?
For example, when Scott Skiles had similar motivation problems with his players, he would bench the whole frickin lineup and play scrubs who weren't half as good. The players learned nothing except that Skiles is an @$$4073, and within the season Skiles was out of a job. Sounds like you are in the hunt to bring Scott Skiles back to the valley. LOL.
That's also the problem with guys like Avery Johnson - they push so hard all the time that players eventually tune them out. You want these players to die on the court in November? It's funny, Pop benches players in November for the exact opposite reason.
Finally, consider the Zen Master. When Kobe was mailing in and sulking through games in the loser years, did Phil Jackson bench him as he should have in your estimation? No. Seek and ye may find the answer as to why.
In conclusion, D'Antoni holds players brutally accountable and they do perform.
This leads to your third accusation: #3 The Crime of Hubris
After a short recess, I will address respond to this accusation.
BTW, nice quote, but it shows just what a fanblog wanker you are. What do you know about passion and energy TiVo boy?
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 4:13 PM PDT ]
The Black Mamba not bring it each and every game? Say it isn't so.
And btw - I bring the energy and passion every time I step on the (tennis) court and don't you forget it.
Enjoy your recess and be sure you don't throw sand at any of the other kids in your class. If you're good I will bring you cookies and milk.
[Note by ZonaFlash, 04/30/08 8:08 PM EDT ]
Of all the crimes you've raise, hubris is the one that hits closest to the heart of the matter. However, this is sports, and the greatest sin in sports is cowardice, not hubris. The greatest sin is not in going with a winning formula, but preemptively changing the formula and beating yourself.
And psychologically, better hubris than cowardice. Clearly, in the past four years, the Suns have overachieved. The players were never as good as D'Antoni's coaching made them appear.
Tell me the Suns did not overachieve in 2005-2006! D'Antoni genius right there. He didn't let the players quit without 3/5ths of their starting lineup gone (Amare, JJ and Q). And how's that year for making adjustments?
Of course D'Antoni was on board with the Big Gamble. So what? This only would show that he realized his team needed to get better. No hubris there. I don't see how the Shaq trade is involved in this case. D'Antoni impressed a lot of people with the way he adapted the team following this trade. How was that for making adjustments? Give him a training camp with these guys and he'll impress you again.
You're angry witchhunting lynchmob bloggery is like a jilted girlfriend. You're upset because you were promised 24K gold but only got 18K gold. You forgot what it was like to get pig iron like the rest of the league. Paul Westphal. Danny Ainge. Scott Skiles. Frank Johnson.
We close with Exhibit A, testimony from Mike Lisboa:
I'm with Broussard ZonaFlash and whomever made the Jerry Sloan argument. If Coach D gets fired, it will be blood for blood's sake. While I don't buy the "job security" line of reasoning (4 to 9 rings gets anyone job security after all), I do think the winningest coach in Suns history has earned the privilege of another couple of years on the sidelines, regardless of the roster.
While GM D'Antoni is responsible for the Marcus Banks debacle and Boris Diaw's nightly money baths, I think he at least had the good sense to realize that administration was not his strong suit. And I think that ironically the blame for a lack of a decent bench lies with $arver, who opted to sell draft picks on eBay even though, thanks to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, draft picks are the cheapest way to build a bench.
And I'll even let Kerr/Coach D off the hook for the Shaq trade. Whether or not it was true in the locker room, by all accounts in the court of public opinion, trading Shawn Marion (and wiping the Marcus Banks debacle from the books) was addition by subtraction. Unfortunately, it was the equivalent of patching up one leak in the dam (lack of interior presence) only to cause another (lack of a wing presence).
And finally, as much blame seems to be laid at Nash's doorstep, let's not forget ol' #1. Steve might be the MVP, but Amare is the franchise. The future of the franchise to be specific. The early Jordan-era Bulls had similar issues getting past the the Bad Boys of Detroit and Boston's Larry Legend teams. While Amare is not Michael Jordan, let's remember that it's on him to take his game to the next level (and I think that pride ego will motivate him to take his defense up a notch).
[Note by Phoenix Stan, 04/30/08 8:10 PM PDT ]
Well my friend, I can't say you have been a worthy adversary but I am glad to see you have come around to see things my way.
You have accepted that G.W. D'Antoni has allowed his own sense of imperfection and greatness to stand in the way of needed adjustments. The man's own words prove that: "I was snookered after game 1 and didn't adjust". Snookered he says. A feeling I am sure you must be sharing.
The list of indictments is still long but since I feel this argument has been won and your concession given,
You quote Michael Lisboa. I will close by directing you to the Suns players post game comments.
That sound you hear from the players is throwing their coach under the bus.
"We were beat by the little things"
"You can't play one way (no defense) all year and then another in the playoffs"
"We were the better team but they were the smarter team"
"We didn't play with energy in game 3"
It is the coach's responsibility to have the team prepared. Mentally prepared. Spiritually prepared. Energetically prepared.
If for no other reason that we would never have to hear the "no energy" excuse again. Its time for a change.
I will leave you with this final thought as we close this debate and declare you the loser.
Mike D'Antoni is a great coach. He was perfect for the Suns when he came and he achieved a lot. He and Nash fit like a leather glove. But the future isn't Nash. The future is Amare and Shaq in the half-court and the future is going to depend on developing young players over the next two years. No matter how great he was in the past, Coach D'Antoni is not the right coach for this team's future,
Case closed. Time for the people to decide
The Star Chamber's proceeding are normally held in secret with evidence against the accused presented without his knowledge or opportunity to respond. We feel that given his stubbornness and isolation from our voices that an open debate in this forum will achieve the same result.
The Chamber's proceedings will be conducted in the following manner:
1) A debate to be held on the front page of Bright Side of the Sun between the prosecution calling for a swift end to the reign of D'Antoni and an advocate defending his tenure and calling for his continued employment.
This debate will be held over the next few days.
2) Feedback from the public at large presented via comments and individual submissions of evidence and argument. The collective wisdom of the people over the supposed experts has been well proven.
3) A survey of members of the NBA Blogosphere to weigh in with their opinions and judgment.
4) A poll of NBA fans to provide their judgment
The process will culminate with the rendering of a verdict from the Star Chamber.