From yesterday, Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni sat down with ESPN to do a 13 minute interview. They discussed a number of topics including how it ended with the Suns, the Stephon Marbury saga, 2010 free agents, coaching philosophy, expectations and pressure. The full interview here,

Some points I wanted to dissect a little further:

Basketball is a Simple Game:

By far the most important takeaway. Basketball really is a simple game. It can get complicated when you break it down as most of us coaches do. But really, it's as simple as putting the ball in the net and preventing your opponent from doing the same. I agree with D'Antoni that the beauty of basketball is once the players buy in to what you are trying to teach them, and they figure out for themselves how simple the game is. That is when you know you've done your job as a coach.

Staying Positive, It just Works Better:

I think some coaches will be on either side of the fence on this one. We know that when reduced to the basest human tendencies, people are motivated by carrots and/or sticks. Some believe in carrots (inducements) and some believe in sticks (threats) and some in a combination of both. I don't know which one is right, and it probably changes based on the person. Personally, I'm just a positive guy so I prefer to use carrots, but I'm not naive in believing that sticks are sometimes required as well.

Playing Fast, Playing Defense, Not Mutually Exclusive:

A great point. Most people who play run and gun, 7 seconds or less, come under the misconception that you don't play defense. But I disagree with that notion, I don't think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. I think you can be a running team, but still emphasize defense. In fact, I would say they are mutually reinforcing. The better defense you play (pressure and rebounding), the more fast break opportunities your team will find.

Too Dogmatic?

I did have a couple of problems with parts of the interview. First was what D'Antoni's dogmatism and persistence on winning an NBA Championship with his 7 seconds or less style. D'Antoni acknowledges the criticism that nobody has ever won playing anything resembling his 7 seconds or less and conceded that slowdown defensive style has overwhelmingly dominated. If nobody has won with 7 seconds or less, and everyone else has won with the opposite, why would anyone go up against such odds just to prove a point? I sense a certain hubris in D'Antoni's thinking that he believes he's just smarter than the rest of us.

Don't Listen to the Media/Internet:

D'Antoni says he doesn't take any advice from or watch/read anything in the media especially on the Internet. He claims to only take advice from his coaching staff and players. But even if he was sincere about his non-contact, there is an epistemological contradiction with such a claim. Because most of his coaching staff and his players are informed by the media and increasingly from the Internet. So in essence, D'Antoni is still being informed by the media and the Internet through his coaching staff and players. I've never been someone who rejects information. Those who can determine the intrinsic value of information are the ones that stay ahead of the curve.