For the uninitiated, Mike D’Antoni is the current coach of the New York Knicks. For the extremely uninitiated, the Knicks are a professional sports team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Then again, if you didn’t know that, I’m guessing the rest of this article might appear as incomprehensible as Ulysses.
Moving right along…
A man named Isiah Thomas was the Knicks’ coach before D’Antoni. Thomas was also team president. He showed little skill at either position and managed to run the team into the ground while getting himself (successfully) sued for sexual harassment. Under Thomas’ stewardship, the New York Knicks became widely regarded as the laughingstock of the NBA. Knicks fans would regularly chant for Isiah to be fired but inexplicably, he evaded this fate for much longer than anyone could’ve ever imagined.
During the Thomas debacle, Mike D’Antoni was coaching the Phoenix Suns. The Suns did well and never failed to entertain—but D’Antoni never managed to get his team into the championship round. Some might say he was more style than substance.
Eventually, Thomas was fired while D’Antoni left Phoenix of his own volition. The Knicks threw boatloads of money at D’Antoni and he was soon patrolling the sidelines at Madison Square Garden—offering Knicks fans some much-needed hope. Dare I say he represented change they could believe in?
Long story short, the Knicks are playing better but due to financial constraints, they’re stuck with the essentially same roster of players and the results are hardly awe-inspiring.
But regardless of his won-loss percentage, Mike D’Antoni has the Knicks dribbling, passing, rebounding, and shooting. You’ll see a pick-and-roll, a zone defense, an outlet pass…basically everything all the other teams are doing. Why? It wouldn’t matter if the coach were Mike D’Antoni or Isiah Thomas or even James Joyce because the Knicks are still playing the same game by the same rules. The NBA is run no differently, the referees blow their whistles, the tickets are sold at increasingly higher prices, and the players come and go. Again, despite a much-needed coaching change, the Knicks are still playing the same game by the same rules.
Thus—while there may be some winning, some losing, some new plays, some old plays, some trades, some free agent signings, and yes, some new coaches hired—to expect dramatic change under such fixed conditions is both illogical and delusional.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net