After the Houston Rockets’ unprecedented success this year behind the unbelievable play of James Harden, the mastermind behind it all, Mike D’Antoni, has been the recipient of much praise, and rightfully so.
The most recent personality that has sent commendations towards D’Antoni’s way is New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry. The 62-year-old, who spent four years as an assistant to the American-Italian during their tenure with the Phoenix Suns, stated that he was actually not a believer of D’Antoni and his methods from the get-go.
“I thought he was nuts,” Gentry told Chron’s Jonathan Feigen. “I actually did. I thought there’s no way you can play this way in the NBA. He said, ‘Oh yes you can.’
D’Antoni definitely proved him wrong as his unusual system was the key to the Suns’ remarkable success between 2004 and 2008. In those four consecutive seasons, Phoenix was a participant in the playoffs going as far as the Western Conference Finals twice. This was in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons in which D’Antoni’s system also propelled future Hall of Famer Steve Nash to back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.
“Mike’s a hell of a coach,” added Gentry “I’ve always thought he was a hell of a coach, from the first week I was with him and (he) talked about how we were going to play and he said ‘this is what we’re going to do.’ You kind of take a deep breath and sit back.”
Upon hearing of Gentry’s comments, D’Antoni also had nice things to say about his former colleague.
“That’s Alvin. Alvin’s great,” said the 65-year-old. “We had a great relationship and we do have a great relationship. When we were together in Phoenix, he helped a lot with what we did, without a doubt. We disagreed a little bit. I was hoping we were both nuts. I guess he threw me under the bus. No, he’s a special person.”
With how things are going in New Orleans at the moment, perhaps it would be wise for Gentry to take a page out of D’Anotni’s book and try out something new for the Pelicans who currently have a 28-41 record and are looking towards yet another early summer vacation.