Mike D'Antoni resigned as the New York Knicks' head coach Wednesday afternoon, and now players have revealed that his motivations were not selfish; D'Antoni left so the team could finally prosper.
Mike D'Antoni's offensive style that brought him success as coach of the Phoenix Suns just didn't work in New York, so he "stepped down for the sake of the team," Knicks' star forward Carmelo Anthony told the Associated Press.
Anthony said that D'Antoni finally realized that his style of coaching- an emphasis on fast-paced offense, with little efforts to bolster defense- was not effective for the Knicks. That fact was possibly punctuated by the team's six straight losses in March.
"This is an unfortunate situation for Coach Mike, but sometimes something will just spark off for guys to wake up and say, 'OK, some is real right here and we got to change,'" said Anthony. "Obviously, I'm not speaking for Coach, but that's how he felt. He stepped down for the sake of the team … the team needed change."
D'Antoni's resignation is certainly a shocking announcement to players and fans alike, who thought that the team's outstanding performance in February was underscored not only by Jeremy Lin's performance, but the Knicks' partial adoption of his signature fast-paced offense.
"You know what, I think at that point in time we started to play well and [D'Antoni] started to build on that offense," said power forward Amar'e Stoudemire.
Jeremy Lin, who led the team to seven straight wins in February, expressed his gratitude to D'Antoni. Without the coach's desperate action, Lin may have never gotten off the bench to become a starter and international sensation.
"What he did for me and my career, I'm not going to forget," Lin told AP. "Just very emotional and sad to see him go. I owe a lot to him."
The head coach relied on Lin while Carmelo Anthony was out with a groin injury. Around the same time, Amar'e Stoudemire's brother, Hazell, was killed in a tragic car accident, leaving Lin to shoulder the Knicks alone.
Once the two stars came back, though, Linsanity- and the victories it brought- dissolved. Anthony claims that his return and subsequent losing streak had nothing to do with friction between he and D'Antoni.
"I didn't have anything to do with that. That was Coach's decision," said Anthony. "He will tell you we never had any issues. Any disagreements that he had with us as a team, we talked it out and went from there."