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Mike D’Antoni Spoke

Mike D'Antoni, as you may recall, was the coach of the Knicks until a few months ago. Then, one Wednesday afternoon — a game day and the eve of the NBA trade deadline — he wasn't anymore. Depending on who you asked, it was either a resignation, a "forced resignation," or some mutual hybrid of the two. According to many, the decision came after D'Antoni and Carmelo Anthony had spent months unable to cohere, perhaps driving D'Antoni to suggest that his star player be traded before bailing himself. Those sordid details probably won't be revealed anytime soon (perhaps a book someday?), but the coach himself finally commented on the occasion and offered the tiniest bit of explanation.

After months of lying low and speaking to nobody whilst rumors circulated about his next job, D'Antoni granted a short interview to Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum, his friend and the author of his personal legend. In it, D'Antoni (joined by his brother and assistant coach, Dan) repeatedly declines opportunities to illuminate the specifics of his choice to resign (That's his verb of choice. "It hurts when I even hear the word 'quit.'"), but he does answer the question of the decision's origin:

M.D.: I absolutely resigned. I was in my car driving to shootaround and it just came to me. That's it. It's inevitable. I have to resign. We're not going anywhere. I made the decision then and there. I called Glen [Grunwald, the Knicks' general manager] and told him that I was coming in to do it. Then I called Laurel [his wife] to tell her. Glen called in Mr. Dolan [Knicks owner James Dolan] and I met them after shootaround and told them that I was resigning. But Dolan didn't exactly get on his knees and beg you to stay, right? You were at the end of your contract and it probably wouldn't have worked out for another one.

M.D.: I'd say that's accurate.

So, we do get a shred of insight. It sounds like the organization was surprised but not exactly upset, which falls in line with things we've heard elsewhere. We also get a couple more details — that brother Dan and fellow assistant Phil Weber were let go because they were "too close" to D'Antoni (evidently, another longtime D'Antoni assistant, Kenny Atkinson, wasn't), that he's interested in coaching again but will probably take a year off — but nothing of too much substance. D'Antoni sounds disappointed about the way things turned out, but relaxed, jovial, and unwilling to incriminate Anthony or management or ownership, at least for now. He just explains that things weren't working, and he determined that the wisest move for him was to withdraw from the dilemma entirely.

So, if you're looking for the gritty details, this interview isn't for you. If you'd just like to know how the guy's doing, it'll shed some light. Whatever you think of his coaching, D'Antoni's always come across as a warm, genuine dude, and it's kinda nice just to hear from him.

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty