March 15, 2012 by staff
Mike D’Antoni, Mike D’Antoni waited nearly four years before he could re-create the high-octane success he had in Phoenix, and for three exhilarating weeks in February, the New York Knicks were the NBA’s team to watch.
They played fast and fun, sharing the ball and sharing laughs, and their coach enjoyed the ride as much as anyone.
Just as quickly, it was gone again. And now, so too is D’Antoni, a casualty of the forces generated by a mercurial owner perpetually rebuilding the roster, the caprice of a star player and the heightened expectations of a fan base desperate for a winner.
He resigned Wednesday, a stunning finish for a coach who only a month earlier seemed rejuvenated by Jeremy Lin.
“Nobody saw it coming,” said Carmelo Anthony, the star who was sidelined when Lin emerged and seemed unlikely to ever mesh with him the way D’Antoni wanted after he returned.
That meant Linsanity couldn’t last, and D’Antoni may have realized it first.
Lin had come from the end of the bench to play so well that D’Antoni would compare him to Suns star Steve Nash, who ran his wide-open offense better than anyone. The undrafted Harvard point guard outplayed Kobe Bryant one night, toppled the champion Dallas Mavericks another, and D’Antoni had that feeling again that his team could outscore anyone.
“You know what, I think at that point in time we started to play well and he started to build on that offense,” forward Amare Stoudemire said.
The Knicks won seven straight, leading newscasts on a nightly basis for the first time in memory.
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