The Eastern Conference Suns?

D'Antoni is up to his old tricks with the Knicks.

D'Antoni is up to his old tricks with the Knicks. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Who else cracked a smile when they saw Mike D’Antoni’s New York Knicks put up a 120 spot in their season opening-win, the most in a coaching debut since 1994?

D’Antoni’s “Seven Seconds or Less” style may no longer be played at an arena near you, but that doesn’t mean Suns fans can’t still love it.

In the long run, the D’Antoni Era in Phoenix may end up being looked at as a novelty that won a lot of games in the regular season but flamed out in the playoffs.

That would be a shame because the D’Antoni Suns produced four of the most exciting years in NBA history, leading the league in offensive efficiency in each one, and came a couple breaks away from a ring or two.

So Chris Duhon is certainly no Steve Nash, Zach Randolph is no Amare Stoudemire and Wilson Chandler is no Shawn Marion (and Quentin Richardson is Quentin Richardson four years older than he was in his first go-around with D’Antoni), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Knicks find a way to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Suns always dominated the East under D’Antoni, and the Knicks have enough players that can thrive in his system such as Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Nate Robinson, Chandler, Richardson and eventually Danilo Gallinari that things should be much more exciting around Madison Square Garden.

And isn’t it interesting that Stephon Marbury – whose trade to New York from the Suns led directly to the signing of Steve Nash the following offseason and the subsequent four years of prosperity – has become the albatross of D’Antoni and the Knicks being paid $20.9 million in the final year of a four-year, $76.8 million extension the Suns signed him to in 2003 as the richest deal for an Arizona pro athlete at the time.

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