Mike D’Antoni believes Rockets can benefit from empty arenas

Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni sees the benefit of having games without fans in the stands.

Much has been made about the NBA’s decision to resume operations without fans, and it’s easy to see why. As Houston Rockets forward Danuel House recently explained, the fans provide an additional incentive for the players, whether home or away.

We’ve seen players thrive off of being the enemy in the away games and we’ve seen how the home crowd can help one of their own get out of a slump. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver didn’t have much of a choice in this situation, as the novel coronavirus is still a threat to the health and safety of the players, coaches, and team officials.

This means the playoffs will be without the cheers we’ve grown accustomed to hearing, although it’s reported that the league office is mulling whether to use artificial crowd noise from the NBA 2K video game series, which will certainly be a first. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta expressed how much he wishes the fans could be in attendance, while also explaining that he understands why it was impossible.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni sees positive of fanless games.

But Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni sees a positive in having games without fans, as he explained to KPRC’s Randy McIlvoy on Sports Sunday.

“It’s different I think some people will perform better maybe even without crowds and all the pressure that goes with that. So you’ll see different aspects of different guys games that you haven’t seen before.”

D’Antoni makes an interesting point, as we haven’t heard this from anyone else up until now. But it’s possible that some of the players could stand to benefit from having reduced pressure of living up to the expectations of the fans, as many of the fans exercise their right to boo when necessary.

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As D’Antoni stated, it’s entirely possible that this could lead to better play from many players, and the lack of external pressure could allow said players to unleash elements of their game that they maybe wouldn’t otherwise be able to exhibit.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently chimed in on the fanless dilemma as well, stating that many of the players are accustomed to playing in empty arenas since alot of them played in the G-League, which doesn’t exactly draw the fanfare of an NBA game.

There have also been talks that D’Antoni, and many of the league’s older coaches, wouldn’t be able to join their teams on the sidelines, as the COVID-19 has been more problematic to those well in their 60s.

Although the Houston Rockets coach recently turned 69, he made it clear to McIlvoy that he has no concerns about being on the sidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This will be up to me to do the best that I can do to follow protocols and everybody is responsible for their own health. But I have no qualms at all about getting back and started in that kind of environment.”

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This is good to hear, as the Houston Rockets have their sights set on a championship and they’d certainly have a better chance of accomplishing that goal with one of the best coaches in the league roaming the sidelines. And especially without the added pressure of many of the hostile crowds.