At a meeting with reporters in early February, then-Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni was asked if he worried about his star players getting enough “touches” — hoops parlance for chances to shoot the ball. D’Antoni replied that he was only concerned with players taking the best shot they could and claimed that he didn’t sweat it if his star players’ stats were not as high as they’d like them to be.
I followed up D’Antoni’s statement by asking if there are any NBA coaches preoccupied with assuaging the egos of their star players at the expense of the overall good of the team. “Duh! Yeah!” he replied sarcastically. I responded, “Of course a lot of fans and reporters feel that way but it’s surprising to hear an NBA coach say that about his peers.” Mike quickly retorted, “In the end, though, those coaches always get fired.”
Whenever he was asked about his job security since he was in the last year of his contract, D’Antoni always had the same answer, “I am 60 years old and I am not going to worry about my job.” The implication was that he could retire comfortably if he wanted to and that he felt confident he could get another NBA head coaching job if he wanted that.
Perhaps it’s not shocking then that D’Antoni fired the Knicks last week. He was clearly upset about the team’s six-game losing streak, punctuated by a dreary performance in Chicago, where the Bulls grabbed 20 more rebounds than the Knicks. Mike was probably also weary of dealing with Carmelo Anthony, a superstar who can score at will but has never shown an inclination to play defense.
Assistant coach and a former Knicks player Mike Woodson was quickly named interim head coach. While it’s too early to gauge if he’ll succeed, the Knicks certainly played well in his first four games. Last Friday, Knicks players swarmed over any Indiana Pacers player who had the ball. The tenacious defense led to a lot of turnovers and quick baskets for the Knicks, and certainly energized the crowd. Even Anthony got caught up in the spirit as he was called for a flagrant foul trying to stop a Pacers two-on-one fast break.
While the St. John’s men’s basketball team did not earn any NCAA Tournament berths, the women’s team, led by forward Da’Shena Stevens, qualified. President Obama picked them to make it to the Final Four.
Queens certainly has its share of broadcasters calling the March Madness action on CBS and TNT. Ian Eagle, Kenny Smith and Len Elmore grew up in Forest Hills, LeFrak City, and Woodside respectively.
The Mets did a smart thing last week when they announced that $10 student rush tickets for high school and college students will be available for purchase the day of a game. The only blacked out dates will be Opening Day and the annual Subway Series. Expect a large number of younger Phillies fans who can’t get tickets at home, to come up to Queens when their team plays here. Ten bucks is cheaper than going to the movies these days.