One of the NBA’s most successful coaches over the past decade and a mentor who has been hailed as an offensive visionary, Mike D’Antoni joins the Knickerbockers as the 24th head coach in franchise history.
D’Antoni comes to New York after piloting the Phoenix Suns to four straight 50-plus win seasons and three Pacific Division Championships, instilling a high-octane offensive game that made the Suns one of the most dynamic and crowd-pleasing teams in recent NBA history.
Over six seasons as an NBA head coach, D’Antoni owns a career record of 267-172 (.608), including 253-136 (.650) in five years with Phoenix. The NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2004-05, he is the third-winningest coach in Suns franchise history (253), trailing only John MacLeod (579) and the late Cotton Fitzsimmons (341). His .650 winning percentage is second in Suns history to Paul Westphal’s .685.
Originally joining the Suns as an assistant coach in June 2002, D’Antoni, 57, was named head coach on Dec. 10, 2003, succeeding Frank Johnson. In his four full seasons as Suns headmaster (2004-05 through 2007-08), the Suns won 50-plus games each year, including two 60-plus-win campaigns (62-20 in 2004-05, 61-21 in 2006-07). D’Antoni’s Suns won three straight Pacific Division crowns (2005 through 2007) and advanced to the Western Conference Finals twice (2005 and 2006).
D’Antoni’s uptempo offensive philosophy enabled the Suns to lead the NBA in scoring for three consecutive years (2004-05 through 2006-07). In 2004-05, his first full season as head coach, D’Antoni’s Suns averaged 110.4 ppg and became the first NBA team since 1994-95 to average over 110 points per game. That season - in which the Suns increased their win total from 29 to 62 - the team’s 16.2-point increase from the prior season (94.2) ranked as the largest increase in team scoring since the advent of the shot clock in 1954-55. The Suns averaged better than 110 points in three of D’Antoni’s four full seasons at the helm.
D’Antoni’s success in Phoenix earned him a host of honors, capped by his selection as NBA Coach of the Year in 2004-05, as the Suns became the second of three teams in NBA history (1979-80 Celtics, 2007-08 Celtics) to follow a 50-loss season with a 60-win campaign. He was honored four times as NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month (December 2004, February 2006, December 2006, January 2007), and also earned head coaching honors at NBA All-Star 2007 in Las Vegas, guiding the West to a 153-132 victory. D’Antoni’s success earned him appointment as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the Suns on Mar. 10, 2006.
Joining the Denver Nuggets as director of player personnel in 1997-98, D’Antoni’s NBA head coaching career began the following year, when he led the Nuggets to a 14-36 mark in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 campaign. He also served one season (1999-2000) as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs, and one year (2000-01) as an assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers under Mike Dunleavy.
D’Antoni’s passion and love for basketball has taken him from the mountains of West Virginia to the professional ranks of the NBA, ABA, across Italy and throughout Europe, as his resume includes over three decades of pro hoop experience on both sides of the Atlantic. USA Basketball named him to the Men’s Senior National Team Program coaching staff for 2006-08 as an assistant, and his implementation of a wide-open offense played a major role as Team USA won a gold medal at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas and a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan.
Just prior to joining the Suns, D’Antoni coached Benetton Treviso of the Italian League, leading the club to a 28-8 mark and the Italian League championship in 2001-02. An Italian League legend, D’Antoni also coached Benetton from 1994-95 through 1996-97, capturing the Cup of Europe and Cup of Italy in 1995 and the Italian League title in 1996-97. He also piloted Philips Milan for four seasons (1990-91 through 1993-94) and led the club to the 1993 Korac Cup. During his tenure in Italy, D’Antoni - a dual citizen of the United States and Italy - led his teams to the playoffs each season and was twice voted the league’s Coach of the Year.
Over four NBA seasons with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1973-74 through 1975-76) and San Antonio Spurs (1976-77), D’Antoni averaged 3.3 points over 130 games. He also played in 50 games (3.5 ppg) for the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA’s final season (1975-76). With the Kings in 1974-75, he was a roommate of current Houston Rockets head coach Rick Adelman.
After a two-game stint with the Spurs in November 1976, D’Antoni moved to Italy where he played 13 seasons for Milan of the Italian League and became the club’s all-time leading scorer (12.6 ppg). Mike was voted the League’s top point guard of all time in 1990 and paced Milan to five Italian League titles, two Cups of Europe, two Cups of Italy, one Korac Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.
He was selected to play on the Italian national team for the European Championships in 1989 and was a part of the Milan team that competed in the inaugural McDonald’s Open in 1987. In 1978, D’Antoni tried out for the Chicago Bulls, but opted to remain in Italy where he stayed until he returned to the NBA as the Nuggets’ director of player personnel in 1997.
Fluent in English and Italian, D’Antoni has co-authored two books: Playmaker, with former Milan head coach Dan Peterson, and Vivendo Giacando, with Italian sportswriter Tullio Lauro. He also served as an analyst for NBA.com following the 1998-99 regular season and worked as a broadcast analyst for Team USA throughout the 2003 FIBA Americas Men’s Olympic Tournament in San Juan.
Born on May 8, 1951, the Mullens, West Virginia native played at Marshall University and graduated as the school’s career assist leader (659) in 1973. Mike’s father, Lewis, is a legendary high school basketball coach in West Virginia and Ohio, and was inducted into West Virginia’s Sports Hall of Fame in May 2004. His brother Dan served as an assistant coach on his staff in Phoenix.
D’Antoni and his wife Laurel, whom he met in Milan, Italy, have one son, Michael.