Mike D’Antoni has a very good idea of what life is like for Jeff Hornacek, trying to lead the Knicks through a rebuilding situation while feeling the pressures of coaching in New York.
“I know what’s he’s going through,” the Rockets’ coach said, “And it’s not easy.”
D’Antoni guided the Knicks for three-plus seasons, and reached the playoffs just once. They tore down the roster while D’Antoni was the coach, to put them in position to sign LeBron James. They ended up with Amar’e Stoudemire and later traded for Carmelo Anthony.
The D’Antoni-Anthony partnership didn’t work and ultimately led to D’Antoni’s exit in 2012. Through it all, D’Antoni tried to run his speed-ball system.
Hornacek is pushing the Knicks to play up-tempo as he did the Suns, who he guided to 48 wins in 2013-14. There’s already been speculation about his job security. This was before team president Steve Mills said he supported Hornacek and before the three-game winning streak the Knicks took into Wednesday’s game.
D’Antoni, the NBA Coach of the Year last season, is happy to see Hornacek enjoy some success.
“The ups and downs,” D’Antoni said, “it can get to you and you get frustrated and all that. It makes it tougher. But at the same time it is exciting. He’s a great coach and he does a great job. If the team lines up right, he’ll do a good job with them as he did in Phoenix that year.
“He’s been around the game forever so but you do have to get through the noise. Whether you listen to it or not, I don’t know. Hopefully he doesn’t. The way the team is playing right now, it looks good . . . Just don’t respond and don’t listen to it and if you don’t, you can live a very happy life.”
The Rockets canceled their morning shootaround at Madison Square Garden because of traffic after Tuesday’s terrorist attack on the West Side Highway. Houston was staying at a hotel by Battery Park.
“There was no chance to get here,” D’Antoni said. “We would have been on the bus for two hours.”
Members of the NYPD and New York City Fire Department presented the colors and the Knicks held a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the attack.