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The New York Knicks have gone from Linsanity to insanity.
Mike D’Antoni, an offensive mastermind who was brought in to kickstart a stagnant team after the 2007 season, has resigned from his job as head coach of the historic franchise. Assistant coach Mike Woodson will be his interim replacement.
After two difficult years aimed at casting aside bad contracts and rebuilding the franchise, D’Antoni and the newly-acquired Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony led the team to the playoffs last season, falling in a sweep to the Boston Celtics.
With the signing of star center Tyson Chandler from the Dallas Mavericks, the expectations were high for the Knicks coming into the season. But Anthony got hurt and the team couldn’t gel — until a little known point guard from Harvard named Jeremy Lin was given an opportunity to get on the court.
Lin lit up the league and became an international sensation, dropping major scoring nights (including 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers) while running a resurgent offense. Hollywood, like the rest of the world, fell for his underdog story and bulldog play, with stars flocking to Knicks games like they did in the team’s most recent glory days in the mid-90s. He also helped push the Knicks’ cable network, MSG, to new highs in ratings.
Unfortunately for New York, exhaustion set in for Lin, who was a late invite to the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, and Anthony’s return changed the dynamic of the team’s offense. He’s insisted that he is proud of Lin and wants to play with him, but his style did not mesh with D’Antoni’s quick-fire, point guard-favoring offense. Wednesday morning, rumors that Anthony wanted to be traded circulated, though the star later said they were erroneous.
D’Antoni’s exit comes during a losing streak that has reached six games, but still comes as a shock to fans and reporters alike. Spike Lee, Hollywood’s leading Knicks fan, wished him well, offering the consolation that New York is a difficult place to operate.
“I’m Sorry To See Coach D Leave. I Wish Him The Best.Tough City.Tough Business.Ya-Dig? Sho-Nuff.Dat’s Da Knick Truth,Ruth,” the director tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
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