Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mike D'Antoni's Resignation from the Knicks Highlights Serious Ownership Problems

Mike D'Antoni resigned today as the New York Knicks head basketball coach.  This was on the cusp of a 6 game losing streak since the return of superstar Carmelo Anthony.  Jeremy Lin emerged as an unexpected superstar last month after being waived from several teams and spending time in the NBA development league.  After Lin was inserted into the starting lineup the Knicks went 9 - 3.  Since Carmelo Anthony's return, they have gone 2 - 8.

Here's a little background.  Mike D'Antoni had success with the Phoenix Suns after drafting superstar point guard Steve Nash.  The following 2004 - 2005 season he won NBA Coach of the Year.  In 2008 D'Antoni became head coach of the New York Knicks.  Since becoming head coach of the Knicks D'Antoni had not enjoyed much success, until point guard Jeremy Lin became the starter.  Jeremy Lin posses skills similar to those of Steve Nash, including the ability to shoot, pass and run the pick and roll.

Carmelo Anthony was acquired by the New York Knicks in 2011 after they traded 5 players for his services.  Donnie Walsh, former president of basketball operations for the Knicks, reportedly disagreed with owner James Dolan over the trade.  Donnie Walsh was a supporter of Mike D'Antoni and the offense which relies on ball movement and unselfishness.  Carmelo Anthony has been criticized as the antithesis of Mike D'Antoni's offense because he prefers isolation plays and is considered a "ball stopper".  James Dolan overuled Donnie Walsh regarding the decision to acquire Carmelo Anthony, and shortly after Walsh resigned from his position with the Knicks. 

Here's the interesting part.  James Dolan has been heavily criticized by fans and the media, and was voted as the NBA's worst owner by numerous polls, including a Sports Illustrated Poll.  He was also ordered to pay $3 million of an $11 million sexual harassment lawsuit after he fired the woman who complained that she was harassed.  James Dolan does not have a sports background, he is a media executive who was given management responsibilities for several sports teams as the result of an acquisition.  With his media experience he chooses to censor and ban the media that associates with the New York Knicks when they speak negatively about him or the organization.

Enough background.  Mike D'Antoni resigned because he wanted to trade Carmelo Anthony.  The only success the Knicks enjoyed was when Anthony was out injured and Jeremy Lin ran D'Antoni's offense to perfection.  Lin was an icon and the Knicks went 9 - 3.  The team and organization seemed to start to develop a culture of winning.  Clearly James Dolan doesn't understand basketball, doesn't understand the concept of player/system fit and doesn't trust the basketball experts around him.  Not to mention he uses power to control others and limit feedback.  This is a human resources nightmare and HR professionals are trained to identify and fix problems like this.  Stay tuned as I continue to provide you with the intersection between sports, business and human resources.

Good luck to the next coach who tries to install their system with this owner. 

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