This is the final installment of the transcribed Knicks exit interview during which Knicks players meet with Donnie Walsh to discuss the season and their summer plans. You can find the earlier installments at Exit, Stage Right, Almost No One Left: Inside the Knicks Exit Interviews 2010 and Exit, Stage Right, Almost No One Left: Inside the Knicks Exit Interviews 2010, Part Due. Drop a few words on us in return and tell us what you think.
After McGrady left, D’Antoni dropped his face into his hands and massaged his temples as if he were trying to avoid another headache by rubbing a bad memory from his brain. The season was over but the tension remained high for Coach D. He raised his head and brushed back his hair, now mostly presidential gray, the kind of dull color that spreads quickly and foretells the build-up of job-related pressure within the body. Clinton's, Bush's and Obama's hair seemed to turn quickly gray during each of their respective first terms. As with everything D'Antoni, his hair grew gray much faster.
The Coach wondering how he got into this mess and shaking his head, walked to the door and closed it extra tight as though the exaggerated push would provide additional privacy while he spoke.
“Gallo,” he said
“This is officially your team now. I am handing the keys over to you.”
“Coach, why do the Italians always get America’s crap? Supreme Superstar Tracey McGrady says I am being treated like a black man in America but I think this happens to Italians too. You agree, Uncle,” Gallo said with a slight smile, an exaggerated bent of the knees and a gross grunt.
“I’m serious Gallo. This is your time now. We need you to become the leader,” said D'Antoni almost sternly.
“I’m up for the challenge coach,” Gallo said standing at attention, then rubbing the bottom of his back instinctively after the quick movement.
“You are now the face of the Knicks, but Donnie and I want you to be more than just a pretty face.”
“Whatever you need, Coach,”replied Gallo
“First, I need you to rest your body and not play for the Italian National Team in the Euro-qualifiers,” said D'Antoni.
“But. . . ."
Walsh joined in. “Gallo, we want you to call Dino Meneghin and tell him that you need to work on strengthening your back this summer. He’ll understand. You just came off major back surgery and played 81 games for the first time in your career. You are exhausted . . .”
“Yessir, Mr. Walsh,” deferred Gallo.
“We want you to rest a little, enjoy life a little, go home, keep up with the regimen for your back and get back here by June 30th,” said Mr. Walsh.
“June 30th?” Gallo was a little bewildered.
“Yes. We need you here at midnight on July 1st when we make our calls to LeBron and Dwayne. You are a major part of our pitch. We need you here on time for the phone call,” said Mike.
“Very well. I want to play with LeBron. Supreme Superstar Tracey McGrady said the only way I would play with LeBron would be to change my citizenship and play in the Olympics for America. I think Tracey is not right,” said Gallo optimistically.
“That’s what I mean. Stop listening to Supreme Sup. . . I mean Tracey. He’s washed up, a scrub. You are the future. Your jump shot is the Mecca. Your dunks and air surfs are the roar of the crowd. You, not McGrady, not Al Harrington, not Walt Frazier, not the little guard who’s name we shall not mention, YOU are the Knicks,” said an energized D'Antoni as though he were giving one of his half-time pep-talks.
“What about David?" asked Gallo
“Who?," replied D'Antoni
“David, David Lee?” Gallo responded.
“Oh yeah, him. Don’t worry about David. We got this. This is about you. I want you to be ready,” said D'Antoni.
“OK I’m ready to be ready,” said Gallo
“Well, right now we just need you to be ready to party,” said Walsh.
“You see that book case over there. Pull on that book," said Walsh pointing. Gallo pointed to the last book on the middle shelf. "No, No not Seven Seconds or Less. Not that outdated book. The classic one next to it, Dante’s Inferno. And get back, the shelf opens inward. It's a door leading to the tunnel to the multi-purpose room. We're having a party.”
“Cool. We’re having a party for the team?” asked Gallo,
“Yes, but not this team. The new team,” said D'Antoni. "It’s a small party. Wilson, T D, Chris and Bill Walker are already back there with Mr. Dolan, next year's Mascot and some Cheerleaders. There's a nice spread too.”
"Chris is coming back next year? I thought I was the leader," said Gallo.
"No, no. He's there because of Mr. Dolan. He likes that Chris is close to Reggie Love who is close to the President. You know Mr. Dolan. He is always playing some angle,” said D'Antoni.
“Is that all the players who are coming?” asked Gallo
“Oh Jonathan Bender is back there too but he thinks it’s his re-retirement party, so don’t say anything to confuse him, We’ll be there in a while. Tommy you should go with him, we consider you part of next year’s team.?
“Wow Thanks, Mr. Walsh. I love nice spreads. Will there be cheese?” said the blogger.
As the blogger and the baller disappeared behind the secret panel, D’Antoni looked at the clock on the wall. It read two to twelve, noon.
“The next one is in two minutes. What do you think so far Coach?” asked a relaxed Walsh.
“I think you need to get me some players now," said D'Antoni, who was clearly ready to boil over. " None of this 2011 bullshit. No more dead, dying or retired players this year. I’m a coach, not a 'scrub whisperer'.”
A knock on the door interrupted D’Antoni. One of the staffers peeked in. "Your 12:00 o'clock is coming down the hall. Do you want him to come right in?"
“No, he’ll have to wait,” D’Antoni pushed the door closed. “Listen Donnie, I’ve been the good soldier and I’ve taken all the heat for these two horrible seasons. My record has been destroyed, the press and the bloggers have been picking at my bones and worse with my luck the Suns will meet and beat the Spurs in the playoffs. Then that turd Steve Kerr is going to get credit for a culture I created just because they claim they're playing better defense. I can't take much more of this, I don't care how much money I'm making, this is not good.”
“Don’t worry coach. We’re right on track. We’ll have better players next year. Chandler will be better. Gallo will be better. Walker is better than Nate. If Lebron loses, we’ll get Lebron or we'll get Dwyane. If Riley decides to coach, Wade will be ready to leave. If not we can re-up David or use him for a sign and trade. David's a good option. We have lots of flexibility now,” Walsh repeated what he had said earlier in the year to what seemed like a million people.
“You better get it right Donnie or my big brother is going to kick your wrinkly old ass," blurted D'Antoni.
“What?" said a stunned Walsh.
“Just joking. Just joking. . . . Hey, it’s 12:02 David is outside. Let’s get Lee in here and tell him how much we love him.”
D’Antoni opened the door and no one was out there but the staffer.
“Where is David?” D'Antoni asked the staffer.
“Mr. Lee left. He seemed a little upset. He said something about his appointment was at exactly 12 and 'not waiting for their dumb asses for one minute more.' He was really pissed”
“Where did he go?” asked Walsh.
“He headed for the parking lot. He said something about going to New Jersey or San Antonio. He just left," said the staffer
“Go get him. He couldn’t have gone far yet,” said Walsh jumping from his seat.
D’Antoni raced down the hallway and started to make a sharp turn around a corner when he slipped and slid into a wall before landing at the feet of a janitor. “What the fu. . . ,” said D’Antoni not seriously hurt.
“Sorry coach. I was just about to pick that up. Tracey’s dogs left a little present in the hallway'” said the janitor. "I think it was the one named Isiah," snickered the custodial engineer.
Walsh was right behind D’Antoni. “I hope you’re not going to sue us for this shit," said Walsh laughing, trying to keep things lighter than they really were. “Are you OK Coach?" he asked D'Antoni as Mike wiped his shoe with a cloth towel the janitor had given him.
The staffer was on the phone when he walked up to Mr. Walsh and a rising D'Antoni. “Mr. Walsh, David Lee has left the parking lot, but you have a call from Nate Robinson, sir,” said the staffer.
“He’s not on this team. I don’t want to talk to him,” responded D'Antoni.
“No Sir, he’s not calling to talk. He wants to communicate with you by way of his twitter account, sir.”
“What? Twitter? I’m too old to twit,” said Walsh
“Tweet sir. On twitter you tweet,” responded the young staffer.
“Well, I don’t twit or tweet, how is that,” said Walsh.
“Sir, you can read his tweets on my iphone right now and it will only take a second.”
“OK, OK show them to me. Coach, if you done getting out of that mess you stepped into, come read these nit twits from Nate with me.” They all gathered around the iphone and read Nate's tweets.
What up Coach D and Mr. Walsh! Couldn’t miss exit interview tho I exited stage rite to da rite team early lol #wordappHeard u won’t say my name, after jerkin’ my chain but my game dun changed while u remain da same, losin & lame #wordapp
Check me out on @ustream going through my ipod...takin requests. come thru. #wordaapp http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nate-robinson-live
coach thank u 4 sendin’ me off, now I’m found no longer lost, hope u lovin’ golf, I’ll be playing D in thee playoffs #wordapp
dis a voice to da crypt, thought I'd slip, when u faked a rift, but dropped 40, gave my team a lift, u can't stop God's gift #wordapp
RT @elysiastephanie: @nate_robinson you are such a humble, nice guy and I'm so happy you're playing for boson and I hope you stay#wordaapp
RT@HUD What we got here is a failure to communicate @'Antoni @NoD-in-da-Mecca #wordapp #textme
Ok if u wanna knw more all u gotta do is ask, like my mother said a closed mouth never gets feddddd!!!! #wordaapp! #textme
Hope y'all catch the games big shout out coming to all & #letsgo!!!
@coach being investigated by Injustice Deptmnt, Div of Snarkotics 4 excessive snarkiness & intent to create hell on earth. LOL. #wordapp
@Dwalsh Thank you. @Coach Fuck You. LeBron Comin’ there to take my spot. Opps ain't got one. ROFLMBAO I’m Outtie #wordaapp #don’ttextme