New Nets coach Steve Nash revolutionized the NBA as a point guard with the Suns, winning every award except for a championship while playing under Mike D ‘Antoni. Now, Nash is looking to finally win that title, with his former mentor now his assistant.
Hiring D’Antoni as the head coach of a team is often seen as a success, but adding one of the nine men who won the NBA’s many Coach of the Year awards as assistant coach is a coup. It also implies that Nash is doubling down on the Seven Seconds Or Less style he and D’Antoni created in Phoenix from 2004-08.
Six seconds or less, anyone?
“He will do what he needs to do and he will find it. He will work hard. He works as hard as anyone I̵7;ve seen in basketball to get ready every day, ”said D’Antoni on Nash recruiting day. “Even when he broke his leg in LA [in 2012 while playing with the Lakers], no one is doing any better than him, and he will do so as a coach. And he knows basketball, so it’s a pretty good recipe for success.
“Yes, I am very happy for him. I’m glad he’s going to open up the game and he’s going to run, I’m sure. He will work hard and he will surround himself with smart people. “
D’Antoni is one of those smart people.
While some questioned hiring Nash because he had never worked as an assistant coach, the rookie coach wisely chose a familiar face to lean on and an excellent basketball brain to choose.
The 69-year-old D’Antoni’s ushered in the era of speed and space, with a focus on 3-point photography. Nash was a big part of all that throughout his career at the Hall of Fame.
When the two joined in Phoenix, Nash won a pair of MVPs. They teamed up once again for a more muted sequel with the Lakers from 2012-14.
D’Antoni had a stellar 253-136 run with the Suns, creating a frenetic, open-minded style that was ahead of its time, but has become a role model for the modern NBA.
After Phoenix, D’Antoni also coached the Knicks, but was randomly eliminated in a harsh exit. He coached most recently in Houston, where he adjusted his style for James Harden to favor more ball control. His impressive 217-102 streak over four seasons with the Rockets being the best record at the Western Conference for that time period (.682), and second in the NBA behind the Raptors.
“People talk about the Phoenix team I played and this kind of revolutionary tone about how it affects the game. But the truth is, Mike D’Antoni’s excellence in most of it is that he allowed it to grow rather than get in the way, “Nash recently said of D’Antoni’s collaborative style.
Nash has been careful to avoid specifics, but he admitted in the virtual city hall on Tuesday with all season ticket holders that he had every intention of committing a broad, paced crime. similar to him, D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire – also only hired as a Nets assistant – made famous in Phoenix.
“I want us to play fast. I want us to create space on the floor, ”said Nash. “I want us to give us a chance to go downhill with people handling the ball and doing mutual attacks, close-ups. Lots of high-profile philosophical ideas, and of course we will design and have the offensive sets and things that we think are appropriate for our team.
Another overlooked support that D’Antoni may provide is his ability to handle the stars. He has worked with Nets’ Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at Team USA, and has experience handling big names.
D’Antoni guided Nash and Harden to three MVP titles. He has also coached Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard. In short, he could help not only with tactics, but also temperament – something Nash would need to win that elusive title.