Ball Don't Lie - NBA

When Mike D'Antoni took over as Knicks coach three years ago, he did so with the expectation that he would bring the Knicks back to relevance and eventually make them a championship contender. The first part of those goals has been met -- with Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes) in blue and orange, the Knicks look like a perennial playoff team, and perhaps even the kind of squad that can make a run in the playoffs before coming short of ultimate glory.

The second goal is going to be a little tougher, even with the Carmelo trade making the Knicks a destination team for other stars in free agency and by trade. The reason is that, for all his offensive genius, D'Antoni isn't always terribly concerned with defense. While that was the case in Phoenix, as well, the Suns had defensive stalwarts in Shawn Marion(notes) and Raja Bell(notes). As yet, the Knicks have no one on that level.

Naturally, Knicks fans are starting to worry about the team's defensive future. D'Antoni thinks they should calm down, and decided to say so in a reasonably insensitive fashion. From Steve Adamek on NorthJersey.com (via Eye on Basketball):

On whether the fans' "anxiety" is warranted: "It's great. They care. Take some Prozac or something, hang in there. We're hanging in there. We're pedaling as fast as we can pedal.

"You can see there are some efficiencies and some holes. Our defense has gotten a little worse and we've got to get better. ..." [...]

More on the "hysteria": "The biggest thing, and I'm going to keep repeating, is we're not going to get caught up in the hysteria. We're going to be who we are. We're going to play as well as we can and get it together and hang together as a group and try to make the playoffs and try to do as good as we can."

I don't mean to sound like a politically correct nerd here, but this is insensitive to people who deal with legitimate mental health issues. If you're depressed, you worry about things much more important than the Knicks defense, such as basic social interactions and pretty much every aspect of life. For that matter, Prozac wouldn't even be the correct drug to take here. I thought Ron Artest(notes) was doing more to bring the reality of mental health issues to the NBA, but apparently he needs to do a better job.

Anyway, let's get back to basketball. D'Antoni made these comments after Thursday night's 21-point win over the Grizzlies, so he had room to act a little cocky about his team's performance. But these defensive questions are real, especially since none of the roster's major pieces have a history of defensive excellence. If the Knicks want to become champions, they're going to have to improve their defensive play and probably add a major talent like Dwight Howard(notes) to the roster.

On top of these on-court concerns, it seems a little odd for D'Antoni, the coach who complains about bad calls most wildly, to tell anyone to get less hysterical. I get that the Knicks won in a blowout, but aren't coaches supposed to not dwell on the result and move on to the next challenge?

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