Basketball

Mike D’Antoni, former Marshall guard, is NBA co-Coach of the Year

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Release from NBA.com, with addition information from Herd Insider

Houston Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra are the co-recipients of the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced today. D’Antoni is the younger brother of current Marshall University head men’s basketball coach, Danny D’Antoni, and both were point guards in the 1960s and 1970s for the Thundering Herd.

The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award recognizes the dedication and hard work of NBA Head Coaches and is presented annually to a Head Coach who helps guide his players to a higher level of performance on the court and shows outstanding service and dedication to the community off the court. It honors the spirit of Michael H. Goldberg who set the standard for loyalty, integrity, love of the game, passionate representation, and tireless promotion of NBA Coaching.  It is unique in that it is the only award voted upon by the winners’ peers, the Head Coaches of all 30 NBA teams.

The voting for this year’s award illustrates the depth of coaching excellence in the NBA as 9 of the 30 Head Coaches received votes. In addition to D’Antoni and Spoelstra, the following coaches also received votes: Scott Brooks, Dave Fizdale, Steve Kerr, Jason Kidd, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Quin Snyder.

“Congratulations to Mike and Erik on their outstanding work this year. And somewhere up above our good friend Michael Goldberg is very proud,” said Dallas Mavericks Head Coach and National Basketball Coaches Association President Rick Carlisle.

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game 2 vs. Sav. State, won 66-47, Mike and Lewis D'Antoni

Mike D’Antoni and his (now 103-year old) father Lewis take in a Marshall game in brother-son Danny’s first year against Savannah State. (HI file photo)

Under coach Mike D’Antoni, the Houston Rockets finished the 2016-2017 regular season with 55 wins, good for the third-best overall record in the NBA. His signature up-tempo system unleashed one of the most dynamic offensive seasons in NBA history. The Rockets broke the single season record for most 3-point field goals made with 1,181. The Rockets also ranked in the top 3 in the NBA in offensive efficiency rating, effective field goal percentage and pace of play. Under D’Antoni, James Harden thrived as a full-time point guard and quickly elevated his game and that of his teammates.

Mike was formerly the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers in the league. Danny was an assistant to Mike with the Suns, Knicks, and Lakers before taking the Marshall job in 2014-15. Mike led the Herd to the NCAA Tournament in 1972, moving the team up in the rankings as high as No. 8 before finishing No. 12 in the nation. He then returned to post-season with the Herd as an independent school (1969-77) with a berth in the NIT in 1973 – a tournament Danny led Marshall to the Final Four in 1967 and then a return trip in 1968.

At Marshall, Mike posted 659 assists in three seasons, only topped by another Mullens (W.Va.) High School and Marshall guard in Greg White (701 assists in four seasons) but holds the top and second best seasons of assists (241 in 1971-72 and 228 in 1972-73) got his start in the NBA for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1973 but had his greatest glory in the Italian League. Playing in a league in the family’s nation of origin as a player and as a championship-winning coach, he is one of the greats all-time from professional basketball in Italy. He also helped Mike Krzyzewski coach the USA team to Gold medals in the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, and he and Danny are both members of the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame.

MUBSKB 1971-72 Mike D'Antoni and Russell Lee

Mike D’Antoni (left) and former Milwaukee Bucks draftee Russell Lee celebrate winning the 1971 Marshall Memorial Invitational with the first place trophy after knocking off Mississippi State (95-69) and then No. 8 St. John’s (110-107) in double overtime. (HI file photo)

Through the leadership of Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, the Miami Heat finished the 2016-2017 regular season with 41 wins and a tie for 8th place in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker with the Chicago Bulls. He led the Heat to the biggest first half/second half turnaround in league history. The Heat were 11-30 at the mid-point mark and Spoelstra led the Heat to a 30-11 slate to finish out the season. And this was accomplished despite the Heat suffering through an injury-plagued season, one in which the Heat lost 328 player games due to injury or illness, the most in the NBA last season.  Spoelstra’s adaptability and tutelage led to career years for former Marshall center (2009-10) Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

The National Basketball Coaches Association and its entire membership congratulate Coaches D’Antoni and Spoelstra on their impressive seasons. The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award trophy will be presented to both of them at the NBCA Annual Meeting of Head Coaches in September.

The Michael H. Goldberg NBCA Coach of the Year Award is named after the esteemed longtime Executive Director of the National Basketball Coaches Association. The NBCA encompasses all Head and Assistant Coaches in the NBA and its alumni. In 1980, just four years after the NBCA was founded, Michael H. Goldberg became its first Executive Director. Building on the existing foundation of the NBCA, he guided it during the years of the greatest growth in professional basketball. He helped gain significant benefits for NBA Coaches, including increased retirement funds and disability insurance. Prior to the NBCA, Goldberg was General Counsel of the American Basketball Association.

The NBA will announce the winner of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the NBA’s Coach of the Year on June 26 at the first annual NBA Awards Show live from New York City on TNT at 9 pm ET.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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