Have you ever paid a visit to a house that you once called home? Or even driven by just to see how much it’s changed on the outside? It’s your house alright, but it’s…different. The wallpaper has been changed, they remodeled the kitchen, knocked down a wall here, added a room there, changed the landscaping, etc, etc.
That’s how it is with Mike D’Antoni and the Suns. Yeah…he built the house. But Alvin Gentry is the contractor who came in, knocked down the walls, tore out the shag carpet and made the house the home it is today.
Some Suns fans flipped out after comments from the Knicks coach suggested he was taking credit for the Suns success. “They’re reaffirming the blueprint that will get us (the Knicks) to a championship.” Although, if you read the story, I mean really read it, you’re not exactly left with the feeling that Coach D’Antoni is begging for a title ring if they should get that far. It doesn’t even sound like he’s looking for a pat on the back. It reads more like…see, I told you so.
This leads me back to the house analogy. To suggest that his blueprint is the fundamental reason why they’re in the Conference Finals, now, is laugh-out-loud funny. D’Antoni didn’t remodel the kitchen (coach defense). D’Antoni didn’t knock down a wall and add-on to the house (develop a bench). Steve Kerr wanted him to, but D’Antoni is one stubborn architect (I like the kitchen just how it is dammit).
But let’s be clear; he does deserve some credit for their success. Despise him as you might, it’s the truth, just as Dennis Green deserved some credit after the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl (One texter on Sports Interactive said that D’Antoni deserves 7% or less of the credit—that’s good stuff).
Alvin Gentry said back in March that they’re still running 90% of the same stuff they did when D’Antoni was coach.
BTW, the most intriguing part of the article came when D’Antoni actually showed a little bit of humility (gasp) when talking about Gentry’s role in getting Amar’e Stoudemire to get with the program. “Alvin got him to buy in, and I think that’s Alvin’s strength. He’s got a bond with Amar’e that I probably couldn’t reach and it’s worked.” That and what he said about the San Antonio Spurs, saying they “aren’t half the team they were.” Good to see New York hasn’t made him soft or anything.