Players Sad to See D’Antoni Leave
May 9, 2008
Phoenix Suns’ players lamented the loss of coach Mike D’Antoni on Saturday after hearing that D’Antoni had agreed to become coach of the New York Knicks.
“I’m definitely sad to see him go,” guard Steve Nash said. “It was four of the most memorable and fun years of my career. Mike is a great person and a great coach.”
Nash said that he still thought late Friday night there was a 50-50 chance D’Antoni would remain the Suns coach.
“I thought we could come together for another try, with Shaq (O’Neal) for a full season because there was some real promise with this group,” Nash said.
Guard Raja Bell said it was a “pleasure” playing for D’Antoni but that he understood why the Suns are looking for a new coach today.
“I know the business side of it,” Bell said. “I enjoyed my time with Mike. I guess I’m just interested to know who’s on the list of candidates.”
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Guard Leandro Barbosa said D’Antoni did “a great job for us. He was a good coach for us, no doubt about it. I love the way he always coached us. I loved his style, too. I didn’t have a problem with him.”
Forward Amaré Stoudemire, who spoke of D’Antoni in the past tense after emerging from the team’s season-ending meeting, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Nash said he hopes general manager Steve Kerr doesn’t look for D’Antoni’s polar opposite in hiring a head coach.
“Hopefully something similar in a lot of ways, with some tweaks for the better and some adjustments to the areas that led us to come up short,” Nash said. “With some revamping, the approach we’ve had is a sound one.”
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