NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said on Tuesday there are many ways to win basketball games but that he preferred the up-tempo, run-and-gun style he fashioned in Phoenix with the Suns.
“I can adjust my style,” D’Antoni told reporters at a Madison Square Garden news conference after signing to replace Isiah Thomas as coach of the Knicks.
Pressed for what sort of hoops style he liked best, D’Antoni was quick with a reply.
“We want to run and we want to be exciting,” he said. “I just think that’s a great way to play and the players love it.
“But you have to be successful at it. You have to play defense. I want to win a championship. You have to have all the components — rebounding, defense and great offense. We will tinker with it until we get those components in the mix.”
D’Antoni, utilizing point guard extraordinaire Steve Nash to run his open floor attack, had great success in Phoenix though he fell short of his championship goal.
In four full seasons guiding the Suns, D’Antoni amassed a 232-96 record that included three Pacific Division titles and two trips to the Western Conference finals.
Before joining Phoenix, D’Antoni was a noted figure in Italian basketball both as a player and coach.
D’Antoni, who played four seasons as an NBA guard, left the United States for Italy where he played 13 seasons for Milan and in 1990 was voted the league’s best ever point guard.
He went on to coach Philips Milan for four seasons and then Benetton Treviso for three campaigns and made the playoffs each year. Just prior to joining Phoenix, D’Antoni led Benetton to a 28-8 record and the Italian league title in 2001-02.
In contrast to all that success, the Knicks present a big challenge for D’Antoni. New York has not broken the 50-win mark since the 1996-97 season and were 56-108 in the last two seasons with Thomas on the bench.
D’Antoni said it was too early to say how much turnover there would be on the Knicks squad.
“I want players who are able to shoot and run and play defense and rebound and be great team mates,” he said. “Not all players are like that. Most importantly they have to have great character and be great team mates.
“From that, anything is possible.”
D’Antoni, who signed a four-year, $24 million pact according to published reports, would not be tied to a timetable for turning around the Knicks.
“We’re going to play hard and we’re going to be exciting. So put on your seatbelts and lets go for it.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar