The Golden State Warriors won an NBA title on Tuesday pushing the pace, launching 3s and starting a 6-foot-6 'center.' Associate head coach Alvin Gentry, who will make Anthony Davis' New Orleans Pelicans more fun next season, excitedly credited Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni while celebrating. Gentry served under D'Antoni during the seven-seconds-or-less era, and he hasn't forgotten all the crazy criticism that coaching staff received for the sort of outside-the-box thinking that completely changed the game.
From ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss:
Victorious Gentry: "Tell Mike D'Antoni he's vindicated! We just kicked everyone's ass playing the way everybody complained about!"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) June 17, 2015
Gentry elaborated to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck:
Alvin Gentry tells me: "This is vindication for Mike D'Antoni." pic.twitter.com/Vqrhg9RB6w— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 17, 2015
Asked postgame about Stephen Curry breaking the mold for a transformative player, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr referenced D'Antoni and Steve Nash's Suns, too. "Steve was kind of the original Steph Curry," he said, adding that he thought Phoenix was going to win a title that way.
"I think Steve kind of laid out a vision for a whole generation of young point guards," Kerr said. "And with the game changing, Mike D'Antoni kind of initiating that style in Phoenix, the floor starting to spread, the whole league kind of playing shooting 4s and 5s and playing a little faster, I think Mike and Steve in many ways set the table for Steph Curry. And I think Steph would tell you that, too."
Kerr told ESPN that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, with their spacing and shooting, had already vindicated D'Antoni. For some, that is certainly true, but the Warriors winning means much more. To the Charles Barkleys of the world, the Heat's system wasn't relevant because they had LeBron James on the roster. The same goes for the Spurs and Tim Duncan. Golden State just won the Larry O'Brien trophy with Curry breaking 3-point shooting records alongside four 6-6 to 6-7 guys in the starting lineup. Fans of those Phoenix teams should have smiles on their faces, and it's not just because of Leandro Barbosa finally winning a ring.