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Kelly Dwyer

Stephon Marbury: Mike D'Antoni's firing only 'a matter of time'

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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You click on a link to a New York Post article (worrying aspect, numero uno) with a headline that mentions Stephon Marbury's(notes) supposed "countdown" for Mike D'Antoni to be fired as Knicks coach. You obviously have some preconceived notions about how this is going to turn out, heading into the thing.

But then you read on, and though it could be the bad cilantro talking, this seems as lucid and on-point as Steph has seemed in years. Even if he's still kind of a jerk for joking on record about someone losing his job.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

'He doesn't teach defense,'' Marbury said. "He teaches offense. (Jeff) Van Gundy teaches defense. (The D'Antoni system) doesn't work in New York. Not in the East. You have to have a team that dives for balls and takes the 3 when nobody expects you to take the 3. You have to be inside the fans' minds and that's what they want. There's knowledgeable people in the arena. They're talking to you while you're shooting a jump shot.'' [...]

"It's just a matter of time,'' Marbury said. "That's all I got to stay about D'Antoni's situation. I don't pay attention to his coaching. It hasn't changed since he won 50 games or since all the how many games he's lost here. If he had different pieces, he's a very effective coach. But without any players that play with the realm of how he coaches the game, it will never be.

"It's a matter of time,'' Marbury added. "It's a countdown now. He put a countdown on his head. Now (the fans) know we're never going to win a championship like this.''

I never really care for it when fans refer to their favorite team as "we," though I admit to slipping myself on that idea a few times, but how (kind of) cool is it that Stephon still thinks of the Knicks as his team? As a fan, and not a point guard, we're hoping. And in spite of being paid to play for another team, even if it is in the Chinese league. OK, maybe it isn't so great.

D'Antoni and Marbury never got along in Marbury's one year playing for D'Antoni in New York (the current Knicks coach was an assistant in Phoenix years ago in Stephon's last season in Arizona), and this is the perfect time to pounce as D'Antoni's Knicks are struggling, badly; 3-7 entering a tough game with the Denver Nuggets Tuesday night.

(Although, I never understood how an offense-only style of ball could "never work in the East." Maybe if it were a run-and-gun attack for some outdoor football team in New York or Buffalo, perhaps, but these guys play inside! What does being in the East or West have to do with any of that? And, weirder, why does it still always turn out that the fastest-paced teams always end up way out West?)

Steph goes on to say, "If you're trying to make money, play for D'Antoni," which I suppose makes sense (D'Antoni's fast-paced offense could pump up statistics in order to lure GMs that don't pay attention to pace-adjusted stats, and sadly there are quite a few of those still out there), but wasn't Marbury "trying to make money" in his last year under contract in New York under D'Antoni?

It is important to point out that, for as out of it as we thought (read: knew) Marbury was back in the summer of 2009, he has done a pretty good job of keeping it relatively sane in the years since. He was allowed to dominate the ball last year in China, sure, but he (by all accounts) was a professional most of the time and has turned things around somewhat.

These aren't the most tactful things to say about his former coach, but as an objective analyst (which Marbury most certainly is not), he might not be wrong, here.

Just something to take, with a grain of Vaseline.

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