Mike D’Antoni decided to resign as coach of the New York Knicks as he drove to practice two months ago, without having discussed the matter with his wife or brother, who was an assistant on the Knicks’ coaching staff.
“I was in my car driving to shootaround and it just came to me,” D’Antoni said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “‘That’s it. It’s inevitable. I have to resign. We’re not going anywhere.’ I made the decision then and there.”
D’Antoni, 61, stepped away from the Knicks on March 14 amid locker-room bickering and a six-game losing streak that had left the Knicks with an 18-24 record. He was in the final season of his four-year, $24 million contract with New York.
D’Antoni’s brother, Dan, said he heard about the resignation from Knicks General Manager Glen Grunwald and was fired shortly afterward because he was too close to Mike.
As coach of the Phoenix Suns for five seasons, Mike D’Antoni was known for a high-powered offense that asked players to get off a shot within seven seconds of gaining possession. The Suns led the National Basketball Association in scoring three straight seasons beginning in 2004-05 and reached the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2007.
D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy didn’t take root with the Knicks. He told SI.com he wouldn’t get into specifics about whether he had issues with Carmelo Anthony or any other players regarding style of play.
“Look, I’ve coached players who post up,” D’Antoni said. “We used to post up Boris Diaw a lot in Phoenix. There are always things that can be done by mixing it up. Now, was it the best situation for my coaching philosophy? No. But there’s never one answer for why things don’t work out.”
D’Antoni, who also coached the Denver Nuggets, has a 388-339 record in 10 NBA seasons. While he declined to comment on specific jobs, D’Antoni said he hopes to return to coaching in the NBA.
“I’m not making a secret about that, I want to get back,” D’Antoni told SI. “But nothing is going on now, and the smart money says that I will hang out here.”