Thursday, March 15, 2012

Asian America’s Team: Dolan Strikes Back, D'Antoni Resigns

Mike D'Antoni
Once again, a high-profile Knicks coach has “resigned.” In the late 90’s, we saw Jeff Van Gundy unexpectedly step down when it was clear that the pieces he had were just not going to make coaching worth it in New York. The fans, including myself, then begged for the firing of Isaiah Thomas that honestly should have taken place much sooner. Larry Brown was fired because his offense was too slow, and management decided to listen to Marbury and Curry instead of going after Larry Brown type players. And when Mike D’Antoni’s offense wasn’t working for Carmelo (after it was clear he never wanted Carmelo in the first place), Dolan/Isaiah stuck with his players once again over the coach. I am not here to put the blame on Carmelo, nor am I saying that the right move for the Knicks is to move in a different direction. What I am saying is that Dolan needs to change how he views his coaches. Dolan needs to empower his coaches from the start and let them be involved with the personnel on their team. It’s possible that Dolan is calling all the shots just like it was reported for the Carmelo trade, which led to the resignation of Knicks savior Donnie Walsh. 

Looking back, I wish Dolan had entrusted this franchise to a strong team president like Pat Riley as much as it pains me to compliment the traitor himself. You cannot deny Pat’s ability to run a team and help his coach maintain control when it seemed like the stars had stopped listening. Mike D’Antoni lost all control when the team went ahead and gave up a king’s ransom to bring Carmelo Anthony to NYC. The players knew they were more important to the franchise and owner than the coach was.

The question moving forward is if any big-name coach is willing to set foot in MSG. I think the answer is no, especially after what happened to Larry Brown and Mike D’Antoni. If Phil Jackson came to town, would the players buy into the triangle offense, or would they tune out their coach once again? Would management and ownership back up the coach and do their best to find players that fit the new system? I truly think that it will be hard to guarantee that anything will change. Our only hope as Knick fans is that the talent and money will attract someone to take a chance, and we all know winning fixes everything.

Currently, I see four options:

Phil Jackson - This seems to be the ideal choice. With a team built to win now, it might be the only chance of getting the Zen Master out of retirement. I do think the personnel could fit the triangle offense, but we might see the further decline of Jeremy Lin since we have never seen Phil Jackson use a traditional point guard to run his offense. I would give this a 0.01% of happening. I believe Phil Jackson is done with coaching unless a 25 year-old Michael Jordan walked on the court, but I would love to see him take on this challenge. Phil Jackson took Jordan to six rings, Kobe to five rings, and I can see it now: Jeremy Lin to four rings. Hey, you never know, right?
Jerry Sloan - Jerry resigned last season after he felt he was being pushed out of Utah with the same issues that D’Antoni faced with the Knicks. His star player was unhappy and eventually traded to NJ later that year. This choice is the most intriguing of the four. Jerry perfected the pick-and-roll with Stockton and Malone. He is highly respected around the league and has said he is interested in returning to coaching. Sources have claimed he was interested in coaching the Knicks if they did not re-sign Mike D’Antoni this offseason. Of course rumors can be as reliable as Carmelo’s defense, but let’s believe it for pure entertainment's sake. I will give this a 25% chance of happening.
Jeff Van Gundy- My personal favorite coach of all time, and although he is clearly a long shot, I still think he’s the perfect fit. New York fans have great respect for JVG and will be patient with him. On top of that, his commitment to defense is exactly what this team needs to be concerned with. Jeff has proven that he can handle the spotlight of New York City and win here with talent. He can manage egos -- Sprewell choked a coach before NY yet still worked hard and followed the team philosophy set by Jeff Van Gundy. Handling Carmelo and Amare wouldn't be a problem -- what player wouldn't play hard for a coach who is willing to be dragged on the ground trying to protect his players? I give this a 4.99% chance of happening only because this is what I personally want. Otherwise, I think a more realistic number would be zero since I think a miracle would need to take place for JVG to return to MSG.
Mike Woodson- The new interim coach of the Knicks had a great start last night in the first game of the post D’Antoni era. Winning will help the fact that there really might not be anything better out there, so Mike Woodson could be the permanent coach of the Knicks. Woodson is defensive-minded and has had a track record of getting his team into the playoffs. It is clear to me now that he was not underachieving in Atlanta; rather, Atlanta just wasn’t that good. Talent doesn’t always make up for low basketball IQ, and that’s exactly what many of the Hawk players possess. I give this a 70% chance of happening.
In the end, as long as the ghost of Isaiah Thomas stays far away, I’ll be happy. I hope the best for Mike D’Antoni. He has earned a much-deserved rest after dealing with the circus of New York City. I think the best fit moving forward for Mike would be coaching college ball -- maybe the University of Texas since I think all Longhorn fans are tired of Rick Barnes -- but that’s another story.

Looking forward to who the new coach will be, but until then, let the Woodsanity continue!
Honestly, how could you not love this guy?!

Next Asian America’s Team topic: Gym Class All Star Writers at MSG for Knicks vs Pacers

Photos courtesy of NY Daily News, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, Eric Gay/AP, and


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