College - Marshall
Mike D'Antoni's high-octane brand of basketball, one that has thrilled fans in every corner of the world, has found a home in the world's greatest basketball city.
In his first year at the helm of the Knickerbockers, one of the NBA most successful coaches of the last decade put his unique imprint on The City Game.
Registering a nine-game improvement in the win column, D'Antoni's Knicks finished fourth in the NBA with a 105.2 scoring average, New York's highest since 1989-90 (108.3). With the three-point basket a main part of the team's arsenal, the Knicks led the NBA with a club record 823 three-point field goals, smashing the old club mark of 606 set in 2002-03 and falling just shy of the all-time NBA record of 837 set by D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns in 2005-06. New York also set an NBA single-season record with 2,284 three-point attempts. New Yorkers responded to the D'Antoni style by selling out the Garden 23 times, including 15 sellouts in the final 18 home dates.
"That's why I do this job, because it is an entertaining business," says D'Antoni, who was named the 24th head coach in Knicks franchise history on May 13, 2008. "Our number one goal is to win, but I believe you can win and entertain at the same time and that's what we're getting to, as long as the guys are playing hard and we're improving. The fans have been super and we should be held to a high standard. The overall experience has been fantastic. The only thing I want to give them is a team they can be proud of - an entertaining and winning team."
It was the kind of offensive performance that has become synonymous with D'Antoni, who came to New York after piloting the Phoenix Suns to four straight 50-plus win seasons and three Pacific Division Championships with a trademark high-speed offensive game.
Over seven seasons as an NBA head coach, D'Antoni owns a career record of 299-222 (.574), including 253-136 (.650) in five years with Phoenix. The NBA's Coach of the Year in 2004-05, he is the third-winningest coach in Suns franchise history (253), trailing only John MacLeod (579) and the late Cotton Fitzsimmons (341). His .650 winning percentage is second in Suns history to Paul Westphal's .685. Mike's first victory of the 2009-10 season will enable him to become the 54th head coach in NBA history to amass 300 career wins.
"As an executive, you couldn't be working with a better guy and a better coach than Mike, in trying to do this with," says Knicks President, Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh. "(His) ability to keep his eye on where we're going, I appreciate that a lot. He seems to handle that really well. I love working with him, personally. He's so positive in his style, he's so well-thought out. He just shows confidence, and the players like playing for him."
Originally joining the Suns as an assistant coach in June 2002, D'Antoni, 58, succeeded Frank Johnson as head coach in December 2003. In his four full seasons as Suns headmaster (2004-05 through 2007-08), the Suns won 50-plus games each year, including two 60-plus-win campaigns (62-20 in 2004-05, 61-21 in 2006-07). D'Antoni's Suns won three straight Pacific Division crowns (2005 through 2007) and advanced to the Western Conference Finals twice (2005 and 2006).
D'Antoni's up-tempo offense enabled the Suns to lead the NBA in scoring for three consecutive years (2004-05 through 2006-07). In 2004-05, D'Antoni's Suns averaged 110.4 points, increased their win total from 29 to 62, and registered a 16.2-point-per-game increase (from 94.2), the biggest single-season jump for any NBA team since the advent of the shot clock in 1954-55. The Suns averaged better than 110 points in three of D'Antoni's four full seasons at the helm.
D'Antoni was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2004-05, as the Suns became the second of three teams in NBA history (1979-80 Celtics, 2007-08 Celtics) to follow a 50-loss season with a 60-win campaign. With the Suns, he was honored four times as NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month, and earned head coaching honors at NBA All-Star 2007 in Las Vegas, guiding the West to a 153-132 victory. D'Antoni was named Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Suns on Mar. 10, 2006.
Joining the Denver Nuggets as director of player personnel in 1997-98, D'Antoni's NBA head coaching career began the following year, when he led the Nuggets to a 14-36 mark in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign. He also served one season (1999-2000) as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs, and one year (2000-01) as an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers under Mike Dunleavy.
D'Antoni's passion and love for basketball has taken him from the mountains of West Virginia to the professional ranks of the NBA, ABA, across Italy and throughout Europe, as his resume includes over three decades of pro hoop experience on both sides of the Atlantic. USA Basketball named him to the Men's Senior National Team Program coaching staff for 2006-08 as an assistant, and his implementation of a wide-open offense played a major role in Team USA's gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In July 2009, D'Antoni was once again named to Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski's staff for USA Basketball's Senior Men's team for 2010-12.
Just prior to joining the Suns, D'Antoni coached Benetton Treviso of the Italian League, leading the club to a 28-8 mark and the Italian League championship in 2001-02. An Italian League legend, D'Antoni also coached Benetton from 1994-95 through 1996-97, capturing the Cup of Europe and Cup of Italy in 1995 and the Italian League title in 1996-97. He also piloted Philips Milan for four seasons (1990-91 through 1993-94) and led the club to the 1993 Korac Cup. During his tenure in Italy, D'Antoni - a dual citizen of the United States and Italy - led his teams to the playoffs each season and was twice voted the league's Coach of the Year. In 2008, Mike was named one of the 50 Most Influential Personalities in European Club Basketball history by Euroleague Basketball.
Over four NBA seasons with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1973-74 through 1975-76) and San Antonio Spurs (1976-77), D'Antoni averaged 3.3 points over 130 games. He also played in 50 games for the legendary Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA's final season (1975-76). With the Kings in 1974-75, he was a roommate of current Houston Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman.
After a two-game stint with the Spurs in November 1976, D'Antoni moved to Italy where he played 13 seasons for Milan of the Italian League and became the club's all-time leading scorer (12.6 ppg). Mike was voted the League's all-time greatest point guard in 1990 and paced Milan to five Italian League titles, two Cups of Europe, two Cups of Italy, one Korac Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
He was selected to play on the Italian national team for the European Championships in 1989 and was a part of the Milan team that competed in the inaugural McDonald's Open in 1987. In 1978, D'Antoni tried out for the Chicago Bulls, but opted to remain in Italy where he stayed until he returned to the NBA as the Nuggets' director of player personnel in 1997.
Fluent in English and Italian, D'Antoni has co-authored two books: Playmaker, with former Milan head coach Dan Peterson, and Vivendo Giacando, with Italian sportswriter Tullio Lauro. He also served as an analyst for NBA.com following the 1998-99 regular season and worked as a broadcast analyst for Team USA throughout the 2003 FIBA Americas Men's Olympic Tournament in San Juan.
Born on May 8, 1951, the Mullens, West Virginia native played at Marshall University and graduated in 1973 as the school's career assist leader (659; now second to Greg White's 701). He was a GTE Academic All-American in 1973.
Mike's father, Lewis, is a legendary high school basketball coach in West Virginia and Ohio, and was inducted into West Virginia's Sports Hall of Fame in May 2004. His brother Dan served as an assistant coach in Phoenix before joining him on the Knicks staff. Both Mike (1997) and Dan (1990) have been enshrined in the Marshall University Athletics Hall of Fame.
D'Antoni and his wife Laurel, whom he met in Milan, Italy, have one son, Michael.