Five games into his stint as Lakers head coach, Mike D'Antoni is still adjusting to his new club, but seems happy to be coaching in Los Angeles. However, he does have at least one regret when it comes to his career decisions, as he tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The former Suns coach believes he made a mistake leaving Phoenix to become the Knicks head coach.
"I shouldn't have gone to New York," D'Antoni said. "I should have stuck in there and battled. You don't get to coach somebody like [Steve Nash] too many times. It's pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn't."
According to Shelburne, although D'Antoni's departure is generally characterized as a mutual parting, it was the head coach who initiated the move. Under D'Antoni, the Suns posted four straight seasons of 54 wins or more, making the Western Conference Finals but never getting over the hump. D'Antoni points to those postseason defeats as part of the reason he felt compelled to head to New York in the summer of 2008.
"I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That's why I left," D'Antoni said. "We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren't good enough either. We have to understand that…. I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn't have left. That was my fault."
The Knicks were undergoing something of a rebuild when they hired D'Antoni, working to clear cap space in advance of the summer of 2010, when LeBron James and other marquee free agents would hit the open market. With the roster constantly in flux, D'Antoni tells Shelburne that he never got comfortable in New York, and that things were "better the other way [in Phoenix]."
After posting a 253-136 record in nearly five seasons in Phoenix, D'Antoni's record with the Knicks was an underwhelming 121-167. So far in Los Angeles, D'Antoni is 2-3, though I'd expect that mark to get above .500 soon and remain there.