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Knicks woes not D'Antoni's fault

Mar 4, 2010, 12:25 PM EDT

D'antoni.jpgIt’s not easy to watch the Knicks right now. Almost as hard as sitting through a Dane Cook concert. It’s just not entertaining or interesting, and the losing is wearing on Knicks fans.

And they want to blame the coach. Mike D’Antoni. Right or wrong.

Knicks President Donnie Walsh tried to change that yesterday by throwing himself in front of the bus.

Walsh, the Knicks president, still believes his plan to rebuild the club through free agency was the prudent call even though there are no guarantees the team will sign one of the top pending free agents – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh – this summer, or that Walsh will be around to see his plan come to fruition.

“I didn’t say in one summer we’re going to turn around and build a championship team,” Walsh said. “And I’m not asking for time. I won’t have that much time. But I know one thing: Now at least we have a flexible position, and whether it’s next summer or the summer after, we’re going to start adding players to this team that can lead you in that direction.”

Got to love the New York media, saying Walsh “still believes” in his plan. As if there was another plan other than two years of pain to clear out what Thomas hath wrought on that roster. It had to be done. I get it, Knicks fans are impatient. Owner James Dolan may be getting impatient. It’s been a couple years of the Walsh/D’Antoni era and things are not better on the court. And LeBron isn’t coming. And losing sucks.

But this isn’t on D’Antoni — Phil Jackson could coach this roster with John Wooden as his assistant and they wouldn’t win two more games than D’Antoni has. The old coaching axiom is, “It’s not the Xs and Os, it’s the Jimmy and Joes.” You have to have the talent. Was Doc Rivers a much better coach in 2008 than in 2007? No. He just had Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen added to his team, and that makes any coach look smart.

The thing is, things are better now in New York because there is cap space. There is flexibility now to start building a team that fits D’Antoni’s system rather than the square pegs that are there now.

Fans are right to be pissed that the players are not hustling night in and night out, but at the NBA level that is on the players more than the coach. These are professionals, and college rah-rah speeches have limited effect. The teams that bust it hard every night do so because a player leads that charge. Did the Celtics hustle because of Doc or Garnett? The Lakers because of Jackson or Kobe?

None of this makes it any fun to watch the Knicks right now, even with Tracy McGrady back. And nothing is changing that until the season ends.

  1. Anonymous - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    its not the coach fault , you are kidding me, these guys can only do and play and run the plays and defence the head coach put out there, so if its the talent level , then he need to use a style of play thats suitable for the team to achieve, hes not, so now you make excuses for him, let that have been doc, isaiah, or any other african american coach, you would be saying that he cant get tha guys to buy into the system, he cant , he cant, why do the media make excuses for the white coaches but toss the black coaches under the bus quickly, wow

  2. Guest - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    REALLY? You are a joke. You can’t spell, make sentences or offer any opinions. Please don’t make this a race issue…

  3. Sharkbite NYC - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Look what Rick Adelman has done with Houston this year. The Rockets are playing .500 ball with no superstars…

  4. j.j. - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    kurt helin, u need to do u’r homework like the rest of america everyone wants to blame isiah, but the truth is the knicks were in a horrible situation when isiah took over. it was because scott layden was paying allen houston and larry johnson and by your column here, i take it that those are names u have never heard of. but those salaries w/injs put the knicks in this situation and had then strangled by the cap. isaiah inherited this situatioin he did not create it. he actaully brought in half the expiring contracts that the knicks are using this summer to get under the cap. isiah was f’d in this job and everyone who knows anything about basketball knows it. u should do research before u go saying that isaih created this chaos in new york, he was w/ the pacers when this all started w/ new york and he was doing pretty good there until somebody name larry bird took over.

  5. Jimdandy - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:48 PM

    It may not be all D’Antoni’s fault but he surely needs to take some blame for the demeanor of that time. The Knicks look like they are just waiting to hit the buffet line after the game from the opening tip. The game against the Cavs was unbelievable. Cleveland started a lay-up line and not even one Knicks player offerred even token resistance.
    I’m sure it’s hard to play for a bad team, but seriously, to not exert any effort on the defensive end, nor demand any (by benching the main turnstiles, er culprits) speaks to D’Antoni’s utter lack of indifference on that end of the floor.

  6. Aaron - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Yeah, bringing race into this is about the more ignorant thing I’ve read about the coaching/team management issue of the Knicks, ever. Way to show take the issue in the absoulute wrong direction and make it racial…

  7. Anonymous - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    thats a good one

  8. Corebuilt - Mar 4, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Honestly, this is not a race issue, however I believe that there is a different perception applied to a coach like Doc Rivers or Thomas than would be for a D’Antoni. A great coach shapes the way he coaches to fit his talent. Not to say that D’Antoni has not tried. However the proof speaks for itself every night on the basketball court, D’Antoni has a “system” that worked in the past, but his “system” isn’t working with the players that he has now. He has not been as patient with his players as a lot of other coaches would be which causes players to play a certain way. When you have players not knowing if they will get minutes or not based on how the coach feels, that’s problematic. It’s a virus that spreads throughout the locker room. I don’t see any chemistry on the floor. That is coaching, not just tallent. E pluribus unum is not what I see with my Knicks these days.

  9. Narayan De Jesus - Mar 4, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    With the frantic pace that D’Antoni likes to play, you have to wonder if his teams will ever be up par in the Playoffs.
    Maybe only a LeBron type can push those around him to work hard enough to collectively fill those holes in the Knicks “D”.
    Which begs the question: Does any Superstar in the league want to have that job description (be the one to establish a defense)? Because the coach hasn’t shone he can?

  10. Race_matters - Mar 4, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    I agree that had this be a Black coach, I think fingers would be pointed at the coach, However, this article start from the gate to give D’Antoni a pass. He is a coach just like Don Nelson that can only coach in one style (ie One Trick Pony), can’t make any adjustment with the personel that he has and somehow keeps a job and has never won anything as a coach.

  11. Craig W. - Mar 4, 2010 at 6:04 PM

    Unless I miss my guess, both Walsh and D’Antoni were part of the plan to finally end the Knicks cap suffering in 2010.
    They have done that. Walsh had less room to bargain with who he brought in because of the 2010 wall. D’Antoni had to make do with what he was given – a hodgepodge.
    There is no real leader on this team for the coach to work with. Robinson was moved as much for his ego as anything else. Sorry NY, this has been building for 10yrs; it’s just that you can start to get out of it this summer.
    To go on a rant now and dump the coach and GM makes very little sense. Of course, that’s fans for you.

  12. USUKwordman - Mar 4, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    A great coach adapts to fit his players? Phil Jackson doesn’t. Play the triangle or get the hell out.
    Isiah sucked. He may not have started the problems in NY, but he sure made the sh*t pile bigger.

  13. jcb - Mar 4, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    I agree and I’m Black! Stop the race card BS. We have already taken most of the nba roster spots so it doesn’t have merit any more. D’Antoni makes less than most of the guys on the roster and when was the last time you listened to someone who made less than you! It’s not coach’s fault. Can’t wait until he wins again and you are kissin’ his butt

  14. slugger - Mar 5, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    jcb. You are not Black, otherwise you wouldn’t be using the term “race card.” NBA roster spots are mostly taken by Blacks because they play better ball than whites, which is racial or at least cultural to be more accurate. When Isaiah Thomas loses and is driven to suicide by the white media (Michael Jackson, anyone?)and we are told D’Antonio is blameless for the Knicks losing, you don’t think that is “racial”? What world are you living in?

  15. LebronHater - Mar 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Who’s the coach of the Cavs? He sucks, but has Lebron. Talent on the court makes every coach look good. Isaih is the one that bought the groceries and make a terrible dinner with it. D’Antoni has proven he can win.

  16. Tony - Mar 5, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Personally I hate his run an gun style and total lack of emphasis on defense. That may have worked in Phoenix but will not in the eastern conference and not with the type of players he has. These players lack the athleticism to make that work.

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