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How long can D’Antoni’s Rockets light up NBA Playoffs?

May 1st, 2017 · No Comments

Time has a nasty habit ‘O slippin’ away for your Senior Scribe Touchdown Tommy, as I had zero inkling that the Houston Rockets had a new Head Coach until this past March, just prior to the Playoffs.

D’Antoni’s fired-up philosophy has Rockets revved up

As I’ll confess, like I’ve done here before on Sportyblog, I typically don’t pay Attenzione to the NBA, or Stick “N Ball Sports in general, except vicariously when searching for stories to post here; but I digress…

Amazingly, it appears that the last time I wrote in earnest ’bout the current Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni was Wayback in Twenty-oh-Nine; Aye Karumba!

D’Antoni comes Home

As I was still reveling in the fact that D’Antoni, who I’d become enamoured with during his Phoenix Suns reign, where the mantra was Just Shoot, Baby! Err, shoot the ball in seven seconds or less, had been sent packing to the east coast to try revitalizing the New York Knicks, who’d won at the “Garden” on January 21, 2009 114-109 vs. the Suns.

As then Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr had apparently given up upon D’Antoni’s run ‘N gun philosophy. Having traded for the services of Shaquille O’Neal in February, 2008 via the Miami Heat, where Shaq’s relationship with who he called “The Great Pat Riley” had grown fractious.

O’Neal, playing on a two-year, $40m contract in Phoenix, quickly anointed himself as the Big Cactus! While his son Shareef has just committed to the University of Arizona Wildcats for 2018; but that’s a different story for another day.

Shaq was most complementary toward his ex-Head Coach D’Antoni, by stating: he was sad to see him leave for New York last spring. “He’s a great man, an honest man and the system really works,” said O’Neal, who then paid D’Antoni the ultimate compliment, comparing him with Phil Jackson and Pat Riley.”
“He’s the truth.”

With Kerr telling D’Antoni he was free to seek new employment in May, 2008, D’Antoni quickly accepted New York’s four year, $24m offer and quickly set about trying to right the Knickerbockers listing ship, then walloping from past coach Isaiah Thomas’s tenure.

After two losing seasons, the Knicks made the 2010-11 Playoffs, albeit getting clobbered by the Boston Celtics in Round One, before D’Antoni resigned in March, 2012, noting he’d clashed with Knicks Superstar Carmelo Anthony; Hmm? Sound familiar?

Next, the Los Angeles Lakers who’d tried luring Phil Jackson back, found their Board of Directors unanimously approving the sudden hiring of D’Antoni as their new Head Coach, where he was reunited with his past Floor General, All Star Guard Steve Nash.

Trying to rebuild a once mighty Franchise, it sounds like there were too many Stars on the team, as D’Antoni apparently scrapped trying to implement any system and just let them play…

And although the Lakers did make the playoffs under D’Antoni’s watch, they were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013 playoffs. And after the Lakers declined to pick up D’Antoni’s option for the 2014-15 season, he resigned once again, which is where I pretty much lost track of Coach D’.

Ironically, D’Antoni took over from Houston’s Interim Coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who I’d never heard of before, although I totally know the Bickerstaff name from our once mighty Seattle Supersonics, when his father Bernie was our Head coach Wayback during the “Tommy Gunner” (Chambers) era.

Karmically, D’Antoni, who’d scheduled knee replacement surgery after leaving New York, thinking he’d have time to recover prior to landing the Lakers Gig, had Y’all guessed it, Bickerstaff “Senior” Bernie serving as their Interim Head Coach.

Alas, naturally I’m very happy for D’Antoni’s resurgence, as it’s great to see him thriving whilst his past employers New York and Los Angeles definitely haven’t solved their Problems! For which I’ve recently read Steve Nash echoing similar comments.

Even stranger yet? Steve Kerr, who we know is now the Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors, has publically endorsed D’Antoni for Coach of The Year, which I’d wholeheartedly agree he’s earned.

As the Rockets have gotten off to a flying start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their first round playoffs vs. those Dastardly Oakey Dokey Thunder; Yeah, I know it’s Clay Bennett’s fault for stealing our Supersonics; Oh Never Mind!

As D’Antoni’s Just Shoot, Baby! Philosophy has taken a somewhat different approach, with Houston setting the record for most three-pointers during the regular season, as I’m not even gonna try dissecting the team’s current roster.

Other than I’ve noticed much speculation over who should be named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) this season being debated over the Rockets James Harden or Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who broke the great Oscar Robertson’s longstanding NBA record for most Triple-doubles during the regular season this year.

Yet with Houston having just won their round 1 matchup against the Thunder 4-1, does that change the MVP focus back upon Harden? As it looks likely that Houston will most likely face the San Antonio Spurs in the next round of playoffs, unless the Memphis Grizzlies win the final two games.

As it only gets harder each round, although it’ll be somewhat karmic if D’Antoni’s Rockets square off against his former boss Steve Kerr’s Warriors in the Western Conference Finals…

James Harden and Mike D’Antoni: Basketball Soulmates

Tags: Misc · NBA Basketball · Uncategorized

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