Help is on the way.
At some point during the 76ers’upcoming West Coast road trip, Mike D’Antoni will officially join the team as the associate head coach.
A veteran coach who has achieved such incredible success in the NBA will be extremely valuable to the young Sixers and coach Brett Brown.
Soon after the Sixers recently named 76-year-old Jerry Colangelo as Chairman of Basketball Operations, a conversation took place between the newest hire and Brown. In less than a day, the talk brought in D’Antoni.
“The first thing that (Colangelo) said to me is, 'How can I help you?' And we talked about everything, the staff being included, and we started sharing names,” Brown said. “He mentioned the name Mike D'Antoni, and I said, 'Do you think he would do it?' Because that's a hell of a name. Less than 24 hours later, he came and said, 'Mike is yours.'”
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D’Antoni is widely respected for his offensive creativity, though it will be a major challenge with the struggling Sixers.
D’Antoni and Brown spent a couple of days together last week in preparation for what lies ahead.
“He was with me for the past two days in an office with my two bench assistants, trying to connect the dots with a Phoenix Suns mentality and the San Antonio Spurs history I have,” Brown said. “It’s about integrating post players and random pick-and-rolls and spacing. I can't tell you how much I enjoy talking to somebody of that experience. … I think we're all going to benefit. Truly, I studied Mike for a long time and to be able to now sit next to him and say, 'What do you think?' and 'Let's go to a white board” is just great.”
D’Antoni, 64, won 455 games in 12 seasons as a head coach with the Denver Nuggets, Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. When D’Antoni guided the Suns, Colangelo was the team’s owner, so there’s an obvious link.
Brown joked that when he reached out to D’Antoni he heard a link of a different sort – on the golf course. Basketball has always been a huge part of D’Antoni’s life. It will be once again very soon.
“Let's face it, he's one of the most innovative offensive minds that we've had in recent times,” Brown said.