Mike D’Antoni abruptly walked away on Wednesday afternoon as head coach of the New York Knicks, and it’s been widely speculated that his clash with star scorer Carmelo Anthony was a primary reason. But Anthony told Al Iannazzone of Newsday yesterday that he doesn’t want to be called a “coach-killer” in light of this week’s events.
“That bothers me because I never want that label on me,” Anthony said. “I did everything in my power to try and communicate with coach Mike, talk with coach Mike, have a great relationship with coach Mike. Even right now, I feel we have a great relationship.”
D’Antoni was hired in the Big Apple in May 2008 and spent three and a half seasons leading the Knicks, who saw more personnel changes during that time than any other NBA team. D’Antoni put the Knicks in the playoffs last year for the first time since 2004; they were swept by the Boston Celtics. This year’s team was 18-24 when the coach walked away.
The high point of this season was the team’s hot streak upon inserting Jeremy Lin into the starting five last month; the Knicks won 10 of 13 games. But they followed that up with six straight losses, which is when team and coach parted ways. According to many, the problems stemmed from Anthony and D’Antoni disagreeing about how to incorporate Anthony and Lin.
“I think it’s false,” Anthony said. “Me and Mike talked constantly about trying to find out different ways in what I can do and what we can do as a team. It wasn’t working. We lost games, and when you lose games, people say it’s not working, and of course the blame is on me. As far as the system working for me or not working for me, it worked in the Olympics when we won the gold medal. I’ll take that.
“If I’m the one that messed coach Mike’s system up, if you all want to blame me, I’ll take it, along with everything else.”