Mike D’Antoni admits what made it difficult for Phoenix to get past Spurs
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni first made a name for himself in the coaching ranks of the NBA as the head honcho for the Phoenix Suns back in the early 2000’s. This was one of the best eras of Suns basketball since the days of the great Charles Barkley, with the team led by the likes of back-to-back MVP winner Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoundemire, and Shawn Marion, to name a few.
However, even coach D’Antoni himself admits that the biggest stumbling block his team had to face back then were the ruthless San Antonio Spurs, headed by the three-headed monster of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.
Speaking to Jeff Garcia of NEWS4SA, D’Antoni shared exactly what he though they could have done differently as they faced and fell to the Spurs year after year.
“For me, the way to beat San Antonio was if I could have got Steve Nash to shoot more often,” said D’Antoni. “If we’d gone even smaller. Whatever is to negate how good San Antonio was.
“And (Tim) Duncan. If we had negated him elsewhere. We couldn’t matchup with him and play that style. I didn’t go 100 percent in because we didn’t know back then.
“Doesn’t mean we would have beaten them. (Robert) Horry could’ve still hip-checked Steve (Nash) in the bleachers or they could have made that big shot or you can’t stop Duncan.
“And they’re champions. We just couldn’t get over that hump.”
As coach D’Antoni expressed, there are a number of things he thought they could have done better, but even so, this by no means guarantees that they would have gotten past the Spurs.
This particular Suns group was indeed one of the most exhilarating teams during that era, but sadly, they had to exist in a time when the unstoppable Tim Duncan was at his prime.