Golden State Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry was not quick to forget his time with the Phoenix Suns as a coach.
The Warriors up-tempo style of play winning an NBA championship was seen as vindication for both Gentry and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni.
“It’s a great way to play and you can win championships this way,” Gentry said to Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I feel that what Mike did for this league, not only do the players enjoy playing that way, but I think most fans enjoy watching the game that is played that way.”
Gentry was an assistant coach for the Suns from 2003-2009 and was the head coach from 2009-2013.
When talking about those past Suns teams, Gentry couldn’t help but look back on things such as the negative perspective some took on the style of play that has now won a championship.
“I know we got a lot of grief in Phoenix for not winning a championship for things like that, but we happened to be playing great San Antonio teams at that time,” Gentry said.
“And then there was a stretch when we lost to the Lakers and they won championships.”
Gentry also spoke on what those teams could have done better in order to win a championship like the Warriors did.
“If there’s one thing we could have done a little better, if we were just a little better defensively then we may have gotten over the hump,” Gentry said.
Besides the similarities in style of play, Gentry also saw similarities in the players.
“Those teams were very similar to our teams. You got Steve Nash, you got Steph Curry, you got guys that are really versatile players. We have Boris Diaw who is very similar to a Draymond Green type,” Gentry said.
Gentry was a part of plenty of heartbreak for the Suns and admits that teams need some luck to win a championship.
“Any team that had won the championship at some stage, there’s got to be a little luck involved,” Gentry said.
“The 2010 team in the Western Conference Finals, everyone remembers Metta World Peace’s tap-in. If we turn and box him out it that could have been a foul.”
Gentry now moves on to his new job in New Orleans as head coach of the Pelicans. As anyone would be, Gentry is thrilled to get to coach 22-year-old superstar Anthony Davis.
“He’s an extremely hard working kid,” Gentry said. “Obviously we will play up-tempo basketball and the one thing that we have to do is we got to get better defensively.”
Gentry has been there before with his Suns teams and will bring more experience of that style of play and corrections for that style of play to New Orleans.