Fanatics have been trying to tell everyone who would listen that one of the major problems with this season's team is the impact of Mike D'Antoni's stubbornness and poor communication skills. Both traits were apparent before he joined the Knicks. His stubborn insistence on using his offense as his defense led him to leave the Suns and skip over the Bulls in favor of the desperate Knicks. His unwillingness to communicate clearly with players was described, if not specifically identified as such, in Jack McCullum's Seven Seconds or Less. D'Antoni regularly assigned communication with specific players to other coaches. So far this season accusations of poor communication have largely gone ignored because they usually originate from disgruntled players relegated to DNP Coach's Decision status such as Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson, Eddy Curry. Darko Milicic and Al Harrington at various points during the season.
However, apparently D'Antoni has had enough of the status quo and of Nate Robinson running his team after last two games as a starter. D'Antoni felt it was time to meet with and lean on his team captain to right the ship and help him communicate with players. According to the New York Post, D'Antoni met with Duhon after deciding to return him to the starting lineup. At the meeting, he also asked Duhon what could be done to improve the team and Duhon spoke about better commmunications between the coach and player. Marc Berman, of the New York Post, reported the following:
Of course, Chris Duhon was diplomatic in describing how communication needed to improve between the players and the coach.
Not surprisingly, the communication issue came up, with D'Antoni agreeing he needs to talk to the players more often and get their thoughts -- even during a game.
Players have complained publicly and privately D'Antoni doesn't communicate enough individually to guys and define their roles -- with Larry Hughes, Eddy Curry, Robinson, Al Harrington and Darko Milicic headlining the list.
"It's tough being head coach," Duhon said. "We as players think that we can do it, but we really can't. But the main thing is communicating with him more when the game is going on."
I was stunned when I saw this video my pre-teen was watching intently. I immediately started to tell her to pick up the remote and turn the channel because lord knows I did not want to see her trying to imitate Beyonce's wardrobe and bouncy moves. But I hope she didn't hear my jaw crash to the floor as I became mesmerized by the sheer "talent" (not the sheer panty hose) of the dancers. The video had been over for five minutes before I could pull it together and suggest turning it off. For the next twenty minutes, I sat at my computer trying to contrive a Knicks related reason to post the video here. But it eventually dawned on me that I could post whatever the hell I wanted for whatever reason I made up. So forget that Beyonce visits the Garden every once in a while with her boo JayZ or that she was wearing Knicks orange with a blue gun in the last scene, this video is being posted because this is a major talent in motion loved by Fanatics all over the world. Together, Beyonce and Lady Gaga do more for video phones than the Knicks do for NBATV or the Mike D'Antoni show. So let' just enjoy an energized and skillful performance at least once this season. You Go Girl. LGK.
Enjoy the Superbowl fanatics.
"My God, he didn't even come close to missing." -- Mike D'Antoni
"You sometimes become a fan because he's taking 3-point shots way beyond the arc. Sometimes you get star-struck and you just start to get in a daze." -- Chris Duhon
"It's a momentum team. They have some really good players, some really good shooters. When they're not shooting the ball well, they're not very good because they don't get to the paint a lot. . . . When they shoot the ball extremely well, like they did the second half, they're a very tough team to cover because they have guys who can make plays off the dribble and spot up. . . . Two different teams today. They didn't make shots in the first half and did in the second."-- LeBron James
NOTES FROM THE OBSERVATORY:
Fun game to watch last night. First, because LeBron James is a marvel. So talented that you can understand why some Knicks fans would delude themselves that he is switching teams next year and coming here to win Championships. Just watching him score 24 in a row and the last 12 or so from half-court -- all net -- was stunning.
Yet, the Knicks were played like chumps in the first half as they stood there watching him. His display disguised the fact that the Knicks were also getting abused in the paint as the Cavs scored on mostly layups and dunks before LeBron took the Cavs game outside, way outside. It made the thinking fan wonder, "why in the hell does D'Antoni persist on having David Lee guard Shaq?" Why? Why? Why? Why didn't D'Antoni double team LeBron and try to take the ball out of his hands at least after he scored 12 in a row? Why did he wait until the second half to bring a real big man out there to make it more difficult to score on the Knicks in the paint? Why, Why Why?
"But that's life. Everybody makes mistakes. They didn't talk to me [before], but I did work out for them. And I did have a good workout, by the way." -- Brandon Jennings
"They beat us to the ball, they beat us to the basket, beat us to screens, they beat us to everything. We're just not a real cohesive unit for whatever reason."-- Mike D'Antoni
"They outhustled us, I guess. It seemed like they were mentally, they were more the tough team." -- Nate Robinson
"We're just not clicking. We've gotta find something. I don't take it personally. Nate's been playing well. He deserves to start." -- Chris Duhon
KNICKS FANATICS: What is different this year about your bench play that has you feeling more confident about coming away with the O'Brien trophy?
Through their sports branding consulting firm, HallPass, Mike D'Antoni and Danilo Gallinari are teaming up with American Express for a unique on-line ad campaign. The very well done, warm and fuzzy ads, show how close D'Antoni and Danilo are and give you an idea of why Danilo is one of coach's favorites on and off the court. The ad gives you a sense of how Gallinari can eventually be a marketing star if he steps his game up and the Knicks become a real winner. Right now he is being oversold: while he is being hailed for hitting the most threes because he takes the most threes in the league, those praising the "rookie" forward are ignoring the fact that he is ranked 45th in three-point shooting, 299th from deuce range ( at 45%) and 100th in free throw shooting at 82%.
If you have been paying attention to the Knicks sideline and doghouse drama, you can also see why some of the vets may be vexed by D'Antoni's favoritism and rotations based on "feeling" and not merit. Recent comments by Knicks players including Al Harrington and Larry Hughes seem to contradict D'Antoni's ad in which he says he attempts to create an atmosphere where players treat each other like family. If dysfunction is a prime family trait, then he is probably right. But favoritism behind claims that playing time is doled out based on merit does not foster an atmoshpere for comraderie and group bonding.
Anyway, these ads are sweet.
LeBron is constantly showing the world why he is so coveted by his home team and would be home-breakers like the Knicks. The following video, featured on both Stepien Rules and NoYork.com, of a very unique LeBron dunk is just mind-boggling. Wouldn't you like to see him bounce it off the Empire State Building? In fact that reminds me of the MJ-Bird commercial where they were playing H-O-R-S-E from all over the place including the Sears Tower for a Big Mac. Since he just signed his endorsement deal with McDonald's, you can imagine LeBron playing against himself but probably without camera tricks. LOL.
Evaluating Knicks basketball at the half-way point is kinda like HotLinks -- if you taste them raw, they can make you sick. But you can count on the Knicks marketing department to spice it up and make it seem better than it is. After all that's their job. According to Knicks News there are some things to be happy about at mid-season beyond us getting closer to the LeBron Sweepstakes in July 2010. Nominal honors were given on-line to David Lee (selected mid-season MVP), Wilson Chandler (most valuable player), Danilo Galinari (Biggest surprise) and Jared Jeffries (Unsung Hero). Regarding Danilo, who the 53rd best 3-point shooter (at 40%) and 297th best 2-point shooter (at 45%) in the league, Knicks.com notes the following:
One very positive surprise this season is the play of Danilo Gallinari. Following an injury-plagued rookie campaign, in which he played just 28 games, nobody was sure how quick it would take the Italian to reach his potential. Well, the second-year forward tied the NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season opener with seven in Miami on Oct. 28 and hasn't stopped shooting since. He is leading the league with a 109 3-pointers made and 267 3-pointers attempted in 40 games while averaging 14.7 points per game. The fact that he has been this good this fast is a pleasant surprise for the Knicks
It appears that MSG is as surprised as many fans that Danilo has responded so well to back surgery. His development has allowed Garden management to boldly shift the marketing focus to its new-youth in Wilson Chandler and Gallinari as illustrated in their selection of the best plays of the first half of the season. Enjoy.
"We bring a lot to the table. It's an experience game. It's still an old man's game. You need those veterans out on the court. We don't want to be the main guy. We just want to contribute." -- Larry Hughes
"In the first half we were dead in the water and I didn't feel like there was any life. We weren't giving anyone in the building anything to cheer about. I just thought we needed Nate to show some energy and he did, and the rest of the guys responded really well." -- Mike-D'Antoni
"We picked it up. We were pushing the ball up the court, putting pressure on the defense. There was a stretch there we were making shots and they were making shots, but for the most part we kept the energy and kept the pressure on. And once they start missing, we continued to make shots, so we pulled away." -- Larry Hughes
"When you lose three in a row and you're playing bad you just try to give someone else a chance. You keep losing you got to change something up." -- Mike D'Antoni
"It's up to coach to do what he wants to do. But we know how to win." -- Al Harrington