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Mike D’Antoni regrets leaving Suns for Knicks

Mike D’Antoni helped turn the Phoenix Suns into a championship contender before abruptly leaving for the New York Knicks after the 2008 season, and now the current Lakers coach says he regrets making the move.

D’Antoni led the Suns to the playoffs four straight seasons. They even made back-to-back appearances in the Western Conference Finals, and I’ll argue if it weren’t for a few suspensions to key players in the playoffs, they likely would have won a championship. But after a first-round exit from the 2008 NBA playoffs, a discouraged D’Antoni decided to take the big money the Knicks were offering.

In an excellent interview with ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne, D’Antoni said he shouldn’t have taken the job.

“I shouldn’t have gone to New York,” D’Antoni told Shelburne.

“I should have stuck in there and battled. You don’t get to coach somebody like him [Nash] too many times. It’s pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn’t.”

D’Antoni stepped into a bad situation with the Knicks. The team was coming off seven straight losing seasons, and it wasn’t until D’Antoni’s third season that they finally achieved a winning record during his tenure. He went 121-167 (.451) over three-plus seasons as their coach before stepping down in March after clashing with star player Carmelo Anthony.

He provided further insight about why he left Phoenix.

“I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That’s why I left. We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren’t good enough either. We have to understand that.

“I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn’t have left. That was my fault.”

D’Antoni also told Shelburne that he initiated the split from the Suns.

Maybe it wasn’t the wisest move for D’Antoni to leave for New York, but now he’s in a great situation. He’s coaching several All-Stars and potential Hall of Famers on the Lakers, and he has an excellent chance to win the title that eluded him in Phoenix. If he finally wins one, then he shouldn’t regret anything about his career arc.


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