Let it be said the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey is never as smart nor as handsome as when he is echoing my sentiments. “I’m stunned and baffled by the decision,” writes Vecsey of the Knicks’ hiring of Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach. “Eddy Curry’s cardiologist already has organized a protest stroll.”
If not Mark Jackson, who Donnie Walsh told me was definitely his backup choice had D’Antoni preferred to coach the Bulls, Cesar Milan would’ve made perfect sense. More than anything, the Knicks need a strong pack leader. By all accounts emanating from Phoenix, D’Antoni made very few demands, thus consequences were almost nonexistent when details were ignored and defense wasn’t employed.
Walsh is well aware of D’Antoni’s inability to extract so much as a consistently pedestrian defensive effort from Amare Stoudemire. That discredits both the player and the coach. Walsh brushes off such criticism. He has always held D’Antoni in high esteem.
It’s well documented how D’Antoni felt about Marbury after coaching him briefly in 2003-04; the Suns were better off without him. The Knicks are still hung over from Marbury’s intoxicating acquisition. How ironic that one of the prime wheelers behind that deal (Jerry and Bryan Colangelo coordinated the swindle) that helped sabotage the Knicks is reunited with Marbury (next season, anyway) for the franchise’s next attempted reconstruction.
When it became obvious Jackson was a legit candidate to fill the Knicks’ coaching cavity, sources say Marbury reached out to him and pledged allegiance to his unraised flag. Determined to resurrect his career and upgrade his reputation, Marbury promised to do whatever was asked and vowed to show up in camp in great physical and mental shape.
Still, in the opinion of every league person I regularly consult in such situations – excepting Walsh, the only mind that matters – Jackson was the ideal fresh voice to reach Marbury, Curry, Zach Randolph, Crawford, Quentin Richardson (another D’Antoni reject), Jerome James and Jared Jeffries.
Who would’ve had a better chance to get Knicks players to quit their low-down ways for the next year or two until cap restrictions subside? The point god whose motivating message was well received by the vast majority of teammates during his 17-year playing career? Or the coach who had it made in the shade because of Nash and the Suns are excited is gone?
Like Barack Obama, Jackson would’ve been a more effective choice for change because of his inexperience.
I’ve heard at least one radio yackster opine that perhaps the acquisition of D’Antoni might make MSG a more attractive work environment in 2010 when the likes of LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh hit restricted free agency. It’s not a ridiculous line of reasoning, but it remains to be seem just how committed D’Antoni and Wash are to a housecleaning in 2008.