Mike D’Antoni: Knicks Coach Was Star In Europe Before Coaching In NBA

Mike D’Antoni had a solid playing career in the NBA but became an absolute legendary playmaker and coach in Europe - even being named among the 50 Greatest Contributors in Euroleague History - before returning to the states to become an NBA head coach.

Marshall Graduate Played For Three NBA/ABA Teams

The Mullens, West Virginia, native played college basketball at Marshall University and was drafted by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the second round of the 1973 NBA Draft.

He was named to the All NBA Rookie Second Team in 1974. Three seasons with the Kings were followed by one season with the ABA Spirits of St. Louis and then the NBA's San Antonio Spurs.

Move To Italy Brought European Glory

D'Antoni then moved to Europe in 1978 to play for the Italian club Olimpia Milano, where he starred for 12 seasons and became the club's all-time leading scorer.

The playmaker used his supreme court vision and leadership to lead Milano to five Italian league titles, back-to-back Euroleague crowns in 1987 and 1988 and a Korac Cup trophy.

He was even granted Italian citizenship being of Italian origin and D'Antoni played for the Italian national team at the 1989 European Championship.

Eventual Switch To Sidelines

In 1990, he swapped playmaking for play calling as he took over as head coach at Milano. After four years, including the 1993 Korac Cup, D'Antoni moved to Benetton Treviso and led them to the 1996-97 Italian crown.

Switch To NBA

D'Antoni followed his success in Italy with a stint in the NBA, taking a spot with the Denver Nuggets for the 1997-98 season as director of player personnel. He became the Nuggets head coach the following campaign but was fired during the strike-shortened season in 1988-99. He worked as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs the next season and was an assistant for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000-01.

Return To Italy For Euroleague Final Four

D'Antoni went back to Italy in 2001 to coach his former club Treviso and led the team to the Italian crown as well as the 2002 Euroleague Final Four.

NBA Came Calling Again

In 2002, D'Antoni again departed Europe for the NBA, this time as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns. And he was bumped up to Phoenix head coach during the following season.

Before the 2004-05 season, D'Antoni attracted Steve Nash to the Suns and the duo guided Phoenix to four seasons of at least 50 victories.

Hired To Lead New York Knicks

D'Antoni, 57, decided before the 2008-09 season to leave the Suns and accepted a four-year 24 million dollar offer to become the head coach of the New York Knicks - a team which has struggled for years and was looking for a change of direction.

Team USA Assistant

In 2006, D'Antoni was selected as an assistant coach for the U.S. national team head coach Mike Krzyzewski. His familiarity with the international game helped Team USA to the bronze medal at the 2006 World Championship in Japan as well as the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.

Donald S. Cochran
 

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