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Memories of Mike

In case you haven't heard, the Knicks have a new coach. This might be the best epithet I've seen today: "They guy who actually gave the Garden 10 days of hope." Love him or hate him, I think the fact that a coach who has less then 10 years (I think -- how long was he in Denver? and, was Dan Dan Tony with him there?) in the league and inspires so much controversy must have something going for him.

The guy is a brilliant offensive coach. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong or does not pay attention to basketball. We should not forget what he did for the game. Coaches with teams lacking Steve Nash adopted Coach D's tactics and opened up the offense in the league. More than a debate about "the system" (Coach D) and "the player" (Steve Nash), I wish more fans would think of D'Antoni and Nash together and resist the urge to try to figure out who was more important for the Suns. I think the best reason to consider them together is to consider that Jeremy Lin (a Harvard-graduate, D-Leaguer) won a few games over a period of a few weeks without NY's two max-money players.

D'Antoni built the racecar and Nash drove it to perfection. Now, Nash is driving a clunker and no one wants D'Antoni's performance race car. That's an over-simplification. Gentry is a good coach, but the supporting cast amounts to little more than a go-cart and Gentry has improved things to clunker status.

His management/leadership flaws were also some of his greatest strengths. I loved it when he say things like the team would simply lace up their sneakers and keep running. He exuded a confidence in his system that allowed players to flourish. He also refused to acknowledge (at least publicly) flaws based on his bull-headed belief that he was right. You can become successful this way, but I suppose there is the danger of turning into Howard Hughes.

D'Antoni now appears to be too tarnished to be anything other than Don Nelson Lite, bouncing around the league with an exciting style of play, a devil-may-care attitude and a beer at the press conference. It was fun to watch and I hope he gets to coach again.

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