After a college career at Marshall University, D'Antoni was drafted by the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in the 2nd round of the 1973 NBA Draft. He was all-NBA Rookie Second Team choice for 1974. After 3 seasons for the Kings (1973–1976), he played for the Spirits of St. Louis of the American Basketball Association in 1976, and for the San Antonio Spurs (again in the NBA) in 1977. His Spurs career lasted just two games before he found an opportunity to play successfully overseas.
D'Antoni was then called by the Italian team of Olimpia Milano, starting a career which saw him become the club's all-time leading scorer. He was voted the league's top point guard of all time in 1990 and he paced his team to five Italian League titles, two Euroleague titles, two Cups of Italy, one Korać Cup and one Intercontinental Cup. Being of Italian origin, D'Antoni was also selected to play on the Italian national team for the European championship in 1989.
D’Antoni began his career as head coach for his most loyal club, Milan. He remained for four seasons, from 1990 to 1994, leading the club to the 1992 European Championship Final Four and 1993 Korać Cup. He was then chosen to coach Benetton Treviso, another major Italian basketball club. During his tenure (1994–1997), the team captured the Cup of Europe and Coppa Italia (in 1995) and won the national league title in 1996–97. Coach D’Antoni's Italian teams went to the playoffs each season, and he was twice voted the league's Coach of the Year. In 2001, D'Antoni returned to Italy for a second stint as the coach of Benetton Treviso. In his one season back in Europe, he led the team to a 28–8 record, a league championship and 2002 Euroleague Final Four, coaching a team filled with many former NBA stars.
The first NBA coaching job held by D'Antoni was with the Denver Nuggets in 1997–98 as the club's director of player personnel. He also did some broadcasting work with TNT during that season. The next year, he became Nuggets head coach, but was fired after a poor performance during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. D'Antoni then went on to become a scout for San Antonio Spurs during the 1999–2000 season. He was also an assistant for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000–01.
In 2002, D'Antoni made his return to the NBA as a Phoenix Suns assistant. In 2003, he was hired with 61 games left in the season as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns and, despite leading the team to a poor record in the second half of the year, he received a vote of confidence for producing inspired play from an injury riddled team. With the acquisition of free agent Steve Nash before the 2004-05 season, who was experienced in a run-and-gun style from his previous stint with the Dallas Mavericks, this began an incredible turnaround for the Phoenix Suns. Nash excelled running D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. D'Antoni won the NBA Coach of the Year Award after his Suns went 62–20 to finish first in the regular season. His style, dubbed "Seven Seconds or Less," was described in a book of that name. Overall, his Suns won fifty or more games in four consecutive seasons, while Nash earned NBA MVP honors in 2005 and 2006. In addition to Nash, D'Antoni's Suns also featured All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire and high-flying small forward Shawn Marion. They made consecutive appearances in the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2006, losing to the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, respectively. D'Antoni was the Suns' GM after Bryan Colangelo's departure and passed on the post to Steve Kerr in 2007. The Suns were eliminated in the playoffs by the Spurs in 2007 and 2008, after which D'Antoni left Phoenix for the New York Knicks.
D'Antoni was selected to the coaching staff for the Team USA Olympic Basketball squad under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and participated in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, winning a bronze medal. Pundits believed his familiarity with the three-point shot and the zone defense, hallmarks of the international game, were considered to be valuable assets to the team.
New York KnicksEdit
As of May 5, 2008, D'Antoni was told that he was free to speak with other teams about a coaching job next season, although Steve Kerr requested he stay with the Suns. On May 9, D'Antoni was made an offer by the New York Knicks. The next day, D'Antoni accepted the 4-year, $24 million offer and became the Knicks' head coach.
After two losing seasons, D'Antoni with new additions Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to the playoffs in 2010–11 with a 42–40 record before getting swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
D'Antoni resigned as coach on March 14, 2012, and assistant coach Mike Woodson filled his vacancy as the head coach. The Knicks were off to a disappointing 18–24 start, and D'Antoni clashed with Anthony.
Return to Team USA for 2012 London OlympicsEdit
In the summer of 2012, D'Antoni returned to Team USA as an assistant coach again under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. He reunited with Knicks players Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on this team as they prepared for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Los Angeles LakersEdit
On November 12, 2012, the Lakers signed D'Antoni to a three-year contract worth $12 million. He replaced Mike Brown, who was fired as head coach after a 1–4 start to the 2012–13 season. The Lakers first contacted former Lakers coach Phil Jackson about the opening, but D'Antoni was hired in a unanimous decision by the Lakers front office. The Lakers felt that D'Antoni's fast-paced style of play made him a "great fit" for the team, more suitable than Jackson's structured triangle offense. Lakers owner Jerry Buss' preference has always been for the Lakers to have a wide-open offense. D'Antoni was reunited with Nash, who was traded to the Lakers before the season. Lakers star Kobe Bryant was also familiar with D'Antoni; Bryant as a child knew him when D'Antoni was a star in Italy and Bryant's father was also playing there. Bryant grew close with D'Antoni during their time with Team USA.
D'Antoni's coaching debut with the Lakers was delayed as he recovered from knee replacement surgery. He had surgery weeks before on October 31, as he originally expected he was taking a year off from coaching and would have months to recover. Bernie Bickerstaff, who was the Lakers' interim coach after Brown was fired, continued in that role after D'Antoni was hired. He was 4–1 as the interim coach, winning his last two as D'Antoni started leading team practices. D'Antoni named a new assistant to the Lakers' staff, his older brother Dan, who also helped with the practices. In his first press conference, D'Antoni predicted that the Lakers, then 3–5 and ranked 20th in scoring with 96.5 points per game, should instead be scoring "110–115 points a game". He wanted to revive Showtime. He reiterated general manager Mitch Kupchak's belief that the Lakers were built to win an NBA championship that season. D'Antoni was glad to be back with Nash, noting his unsuccessful stint with the Knicks without him. On November 20, he coached his first game—nine days after he was hired—in a 95–90 win against the Brooklyn Nets. In his first game back in New York in December, the Lakers lost 116–107 and dropped to 4–9 overall under D'Antoni. D'Antoni coached his first 17 games without Nash, who was recovering from a broken leg. The Lakers won three out of four after Nash returned in late December, but proceeded to lose their next six.
Calling it a permanent move, D'Antoni benched forward Pau Gasol in mid-January and started Earl Clark to form the faster and smaller lineup that the coach preferred. The team was already ranked No. 2 in pace. Halfway through the season, the Lakers were in 12th place in the Western Conference with a 17–24 record. Under D'Antoni, the Lakers were 12-19 while scoring an average of 103.3 points a game but surrendering 103.4. Offensively, they reached the 110-point threshold just eight times in the 31 games, going 5–3. However, D'Antoni stressed that the team's focus needed to be on its defense, not offense. D'Antoni likened the Lakers to an All-Star team in which "everybody gets the ball and goes one on one and then they play no defense." He added that they "haven't learned that there's a pecking order" where stars need to know their roles.
Nash struggled with center Dwight Howard to run the pick and roll, a play that D'Antoni expected would be a staple for the Lakers. D'Antoni eventually dropped his offense and played without any system. "We play basketball. The system is move the ball, play hard defense, space the floor and who's open shoots. It's not a difficult thing," said D'Antoni. The coach moved Nash off the ball and made him more of a spot-up shooter, while Bryant became the primary facilitator on offense. The defense was also more energized.
D'Antoni was named Western Conference Coach of the Month after the Lakers went 7–1 in April. They finished the season 28–12 after dropping to 17–25 in January the day of their team meeting in Memphis. They qualified for the playoffs on the final day of the season, securing the seventh seed in the West. The Lakers expected starting five of Bryant, Nash, Howard, Gasol and Metta World Peace started together just seven times all season and without registering a win. "The Lakers didn't help things by making the coaching change and putting [D'Antoni] in that situation, which he was glad to take. But I think it was a little bit tougher than he thought it would be," Kupchak said. The Lakers faced San Antonio in the playoffs, but they lost in the opening round for the first time since 2007, and suffered their first opening-round sweep since 1967.
Head coaching recordEdit
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win-loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win-loss %|
|DEN||1998–99||50||14||36||.280||6th in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|PHX||2003–04||61||21||40||.344||6th in Pacific||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|PHX||2004–05||82||62||20||.756||1st in Pacific||15||9||6||.600||Lost in Conf. Finals|
|PHX||2005–06||82||54||28||.659||1st in Pacific||20||10||10||.500||Lost in Conf. Finals|
|PHX||2006–07||82||61||21||.744||1st in Pacific||11||6||5||.545||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|PHX||2007–08||82||55||27||.671||2nd in Pacific||5||1||4||.200||Lost in First Round|
|NYK||2008–09||82||32||50||.390||5th in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|NYK||2009–10||82||29||53||.354||3rd in Atlantic||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|NYK||2010–11||82||42||40||.512||2nd in Atlantic||4||0||4||.000||Lost in First Round|
|LAL||2012–13||72||40||32||.556||3rd in Pacific||4||0||4||.000||Lost in First Round|