As a Cleveland Cavalier fan, the time leading up to the 8th of July, 2010, infamous known for The Decision, I was unequivocally desiring and completely believing LeBron James would re-sign with his home town team.
I didn’t buy into any of the other hype or hoopla surrounding the situation and was sure it would be an anti climax. However, there was one team that worried me and that one team was the only franchise I could understand him leaving to (as none of us truly believed Miami would snare all three of the biggest free agents).
That team was the New York Knicks.
Three things I look for and respect the most when talking everything sport is loyalty, history and passion. Those three words sum up the Knicks more-so than any other team in the league. Had I a choice in the team I were to support, based on that criteria I would be a Knicks fan. If LeBron James had taken his talents to New York City, I would most likely be just that.
However, just a couple of months earlier, the Knicks, armed with tens of millions of salary cap space, able to attack multiple max contract stars during the free agency period, went out and hired themselves a big name coach to help match their big ambitions. Only negative in this whole thing? It was Mike D’Antoni.
D’Antoni, America’s most overrated coach.
The man that took the Pheonix Suns to the top of the Western Conference in the same year he made it very clear he was not ever going to win a championship.
His regular season achievements are pretty good, yet we all know the regular season means little to nothing in the NBA. A win percentage of 54% from 696 games is nothing to snicker at. His playoff numbers are.
During that four year stretch when the Suns were at the top, they won 232 regular season games at around .700. That is great. Playoffs, when the great teams and players show how great they are, where defense trumps and run and gun offense fails? They went 26-25. Last year with the Knicks? 0-4.
These were great teams he had with players such as Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony. The guy can run a great, effective, sometimes efficient and certainly exciting offense, but who cares?
Everyone knows that defense wins championships, that the greatest players were great defenders, that the greatest teams were built around their defense and all that is directly influenced by the coach.
Mike D’Antoni has showed offense can dominate a regular season, but cannot and will not win you a championship. If it could, Steve Nash would have at least one deserved ring right now.
Oh by the way, D’Antoni’s salary is $6 million a season, more than any other coach. Is D’Antoni the best coach in the league? Not even close.
So when we all speculated for years over where LeBron would go, the greater majority outside of Cleveland believed it was New York. Why not? Great city, great history, great fans, lots of cap room, the greatest arena in the world, who wouldn’t want to play there? He would be an instant hero, a icon of New York sports forever and would more than likely lead them to a long overdue championship.
Ohhhhhh but hold on a second…Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks want me, LeBron James, and they are selling the team under the worst defensive coach in the NBA? I am well aware of the importance of defense, I do not need an offensive mastermind to further my game, I’m a two time MVP, former scoring champion, I don’t need any of this.
Mike D’Antoni cost New York LeBron James.
I don’t think any of us truly believe Wade and James wanted to play together as badly as they said they did. They both want the ball in their hands all game. They want to be the man without any hesitation of the label.
As Amare signed for New York and Wade and Bosh took their talents to South Beach, LeBron would have sat back and taken a look at the landscape. He could stay in Cleveland with Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison and an owner that is mentally unstable and has no idea how to run a team, he could go to the Knicks with Stoudemire and score 35-40 a night in a 120-114 win over the Raptors and never win a championship with Mike D’Antoni, or he could go to Miami with no state tax, perfect weather, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Eric Spoelstra and Pat Riley, and more than likely win several championships. What would you choose?
If we took all the variables out of it and looked at it team for team, before any free agency moves and coaching acquisitions, it would be New York by a country mile. You add a few signings, some crazy GMs and owners and then put in the least attractive coach to anyone that knows what they’re doing and you end up with what we now have.
Melo and Amare fit the D’Antoni build perfectly. They love to score, they hate to defend. They will gladly beat the Raptors 120-114 every night if it means they can walk back on transition defense and can take 20+ shots a night each. D’Antoni will applaud their work on the offensive end, and keep quiet on the other end as he is unsure what is happening.
Oh and the Tyson Chandler signing? A fantastic laugh. If you failed to see this patch job, allow me to inform you. Well aware that D’Antoni is the worst defensive coach the NBA has ever seen, the Knicks knew they needed a big man in the middle to at least stem the bleeding. They turn to the tallest, longest guy out there, fresh off a championship, and throw a ludicrous amount of money at him. Is he worth $12 million a season? God no. He probably isn’t even a top 5 center. He is a very good defender, but that isn’t worth $12 million. It was a patch job. They went out and threw a whole lot of money at a big, long defender to cement in the middle, hoping this would help them outscore their opponents more-so. A 120-108 win over the Raptors would now be likely. It was rushed, it wasn’t fully thought through, rather the kind of move you make on 2K12 when you feel like your team is too offense based, and you trade for/sign a known defensive player to make yourself feel better.
Perhaps D’Antoni doesn’t realise both teams get possessions. Perhaps it is all just a misunderstanding, that no one ever taught him there is another way to win that just trying to outscore your opponent.
D’Antoni virtually goes all in every game. He sits at the table, the dealer gives out the cards and he goes all in. Sure, he’ll bluff a few people out, he’ll fluke a good hand or get a lucky flop, but in the end he will walk away with nothing.
Had the Knicks signed anyone else in the league other than D’Antoni, I would say with some confidence they would have LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire, along probably with Chris Paul, right now. That would be the greatest trio the game has ever seen.
Offense wins seedings, defense wins championships.
D’Antoni may have won plenty of games throughout his career, but he single handedly lost LeBron James.
Tags: Amare Stoudemire Basketball Carmelo Anthony Chris Bosh Chris Paul Cleveland Cavaliers Dwyane Wade Lebron James Miami Heat Mike D'Antoni NBA New York Knicks Pheonix Suns Shawn Marion Steve Nash Tyson Chandler