D’Antoni’s pick-and-roll offense has supporters
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo talked on the phone with his friend and USA Basketball assistant coach Mike D’Antoni on Wednesday.
“We had a conversation before any of this transpired,” Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports Monday. “We were talking about what was going on in the league, what the rumors were and injuries because Mike was preparing for a radio show he was going to be hosting. We talked about the Lakers situation, and that something might be happening there. But he knew nothing.”
Things move fast. D’Antoni went from knowing nothing on Wednesday to being coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday in a move that still has shockwaves rocking the NBA.
“First of all, I’m very happy and excited for him to have this opportunity,” said Colangelo, the former Suns owner who was D’Antoni’s boss in Phoenix. “We were the ones who brought him out of Italy to coach the Phoenix Suns where he had a great run with us and then of course his time in New York and now to end up with this opportunity is great for him.”
After a successful coaching career in Italy, the Denver Nuggets gave D’Antoni a chance in the NBA. But it didn’t work out. The Nuggets fired him after a 14-36 record and D’Antoni eventually returned to Italy believing it was unlikely he would receive another NBA head coaching job.
But Colangelo’s son, Bryan, then the Suns’ general manager, watched D’Antoni from afar. Bryan wanted to hire D’Antoni, and the elder Colangelo traveled to Italy for a meeting.
“As soon as that meeting was over with, it was a done deal,” Colangelo said. “He was hungry. He was ready to come back to the NBA and have an opportunity. He had a sour taste in his mouth over what had transpired (in Denver).
“He had a terrific run with the Suns and really established himself as a tremendous offensive-minded and creative coach and his teams played very, very exciting basketball.”
D’Antoni had a 253-136 record with the Suns and led Phoenix to four consecutive playoff appearances, including the Western Conference finals in 2004-05 and 2005-06 – … [For more on D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense has its supporters, click here.]