D’Antoni’s bad luck throughout his career
Yet for all of D’Antoni’s influence and success, it was never deemed enough. D’Antoni cannot escape his failures, such as never reaching the NBA Finals, the lackluster defenses utilized under him, and his poor rotations. All of D’Antoni’s well-established strengths and weaknesses have been on display during his tenure in Houston.
The D’Antoni experience has always consisted of incredible success washed away just short of true validation. The downside to dynasties is they inevitably obscure others’ greatness.
D’Antoni, unfortunately, finds himself a footnote in two teams’ dynastic reigns. The first was the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty from 2002-2007, which ran right up against his best stretch with the Suns.
Those Spurs teams won three championships over that period and eliminated D’Antoni’s Suns twice from the playoffs. The second was the Warriors’ dynasty that made five straight Finals and won three championships from 2014-2019.
The Warriors eliminated the Rockets in consecutive postseasons, in spite of the Rockets pushing the best team of the 21st century to their limit. In both instances, D’Antoni’s teams were the greatest obstacle to two of the greatest teams in the history of the league.
There is no trophy for the second-best team of an era but D’Antoni has an argument to that title with two teams nearly a decade apart.
Next: MDA's imprint on the modern NBA