Mike D’Antoni regrets not making his Phoenix Suns play faster

Phoenix Suns, Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns revolutionized the NBA in the mid-2000s by playing fast and launching 3s, but Mike D’Antoni regrets they played too slow.

When Mike D’Antoni rolled out foreign 7-seconds or less system with the Phoenix Suns teams of the mid-2000s, he broke the traditional basketball mold. Now, looking back on it, he has regrets. It wasn’t that he was playing too fast and shooting too many 3s, it was that his teams didn’t play fast enough and didn’t shoot enough 3s.

In a piece on ESPN, D’Antoni talks about not wanting to make the same mistake made in Phoenix with the Houston Rockets. That is why he is going all out with this small ball philosophy.

He said of his time in Phoenix:

"“If you think something’s right and the numbers prove it’s right, then go all-in. You can’t muddy the waters. You can’t just go halfway.”"

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D’Antoni vows not to make the mistake he did with the Phoenix Suns.

Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey, is in full support of this, and brought up D’Antoni’s time with the Suns when discussing it:

"“His instincts in Phoenix — as you know, he’s one of the all-time true innovators — was to put it at 10. The noise dialed him back to six or seven. Then when he got [to Houston], we were like, ‘Go full Spinal Tap. Crank it to 11.'”"

In any profession, I think that’s exactly what you want your boss to tell you. “Go full Spinal Tap. Crake it up to 11!” Somewhere, an accounting firm just discovered their quarterly all-hands meeting slogan.

So didn’t D’Antoni go all out in Phoenix? The answer is relatively simple: he listed to the haters. For example, if the Suns went 8-30 from behind the arc one game, doubters from both inside and outside the organization would let him hear about it.

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D’Antoni said:

"“It just pecks away and erodes your confidence. You forget all the great things and how you got there. You think about that one game and change things. No, just keep at it and persevere.”"

Steve Nash chimed in on it was well and seems to share similar regrets:

"“Everyone was telling us you can’t win shooting all of those 3s. Now we realize that we didn’t shoot enough.”"

The article also talks about how the doubt was fully cemented when the team traded Shawn Marion for Shaquille O’Neal. Once the team had the Big Cactus, there was no more small ball and a frustrated D’Antoni fled to New York after that.

The whole article is worth a read, although, be forewarned it brings up some painful memories of playoff losses to the Spurs. It also makes you really wish D’Antoni had never left Phoenix in the first place.

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