Since the time that Knicks’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni was hired four years ago, the propaganda machine at Madison Square Garden has continued to spit out the party line that (a) His coaching ability on the offensive side is matched by few, if any, other coaches in the league and (b) As soon as the Knicks climbed out of the salary-cap hole dug for them by Isiah Thomas, D’Antoni would be the man to guide them to a title.
We saw glimpses of that promise last season, as A’mare Stoudamire came aboard and led the Knicks through their most successful stretch in almost a decade. It stood to reason, actually, as Stoudamire was familiar with D’Antoni’s system, having played for him in Phoenix. However, things started to go south just when they seemed brightest — the day Carmelo Anthony was acquired from Denver.
Don’t get me wrong. Carmelo is one of the NBA’s best, a player any team has to grab if he ever becomes available. Anthony’s prowess as a scorer was supposed to make the Knicks doubly tough, with Stoudamire and Anthony teaming to become a formidable inside-outside tandem.
The problem, though, is that, since the trade, these two superstars have spent too much time getting in each other’s way. They seem more to be alternating shots than working to complement each other’s game. You’d think that D’Antoni, trumpeted as a great innovator, could devise an offensive scheme that would suit both. It hasn’t happened yet.
To make matters worse, each is challenged defensively: Stoudamire, because he is often covering opponents who are bigger than he is and Anthony, because he is completely disinterested. Throw in D’Antoni’s lack of a defensive resume (the Knicks thought it necessary to bring in assistant coach Mike Woodson as a defensive specialist) and you have a recipe for disappointment.
The fact of the matter is that D’antoni was brought in for the specific purpose of recruiting LeBron James to Madison Square Garden. The two forged a friendly relationship during their shared tenure with the U.S. Olympic team four years ago and little Jimmy Dolan, looking for every advantage possible in the pursuit of King James, brought D’Antoni into the fold. Once James “took my talents to South Beach,” it was time for D’Antoni to go.
The dreadful Charlotte Bobcats came into the Garden last week and put 118 points on the scoreboard. This, against a team with dreams of a deep playoff run. With D’Antoni at the helm, however, struggling now as much with the offense as the defense, it just might be another quiet spring on 32nd and Seventh.
As I Sit and Think …
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of how the Penn State sex-abuse scandal went unaddressed for as long as it did was the reaction of alumni when the school finally announced that it had hired a new head coach. There was an indignant uproar from former players and coaches regarding the fact that Bill O’Brien, formerly the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, had no Penn State pedigree. How blind can these people be? The fact that seemingly everyone associated with the football program had at least two decades of service with the institution was not an asset — rather, it was the very reason that they all had to go. It is folly to think that any of them were unaware of Sandusky’s crimes. To allow even one member of the staff to continue would be to perpetuate the idea that the school cares more about its revenues than it does the children that were abused. That so many Nittany Lions don’t understand that critical point speaks volumes as to how much work needs to be done to restore what once was a stellar reputation … If you’re a fan of basketball, do yourself a favor and get to a Xaverian High School Varsity game and enjoy the talent of point guard Dillon Burns. A throwback player in every sense of the word, this floor general is playing as well as anyone in the city, right in our own backyard … Through losses in each of their first four home games, the New Jersey Nets did not have the lead at any point in those contests. That’s not easy. There’s a big, shiny arena being built downtown for this franchise. However, if Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t secure some marketable talent before his team makes the move, the Nets’ new home will be nothing more than lipstick on a pig … Now that the Jets’ season has come to an end, the infamous “unnamed sources” in the locker room have begun to take shots at quarterback Mark Sanchez. We’ve been told, since he was hired, that Big Rexy had the right temperament to coach players with questionable attitudes. Apparently, though, that’s only when they’re winning; the first season without a playoff appearance has the rats jumping off the ship. Memo to GM Mike Tannenbaum: You get what you pay for … Congratulations to Yankees’ great Jorge Posada on a stellar career. Clearly, the least appreciated of the Core Four, Posada had as many big moments as any. While it’s unlikely he’ll warrant entry into Cooperstown, he certainly deserves a plaque in Monument Park, as he was, truly, an all-time Yankee great.