Houston Rockets: behind the scenes of farewell to Mike D’Antoni

In a detailed article published by The Athletic, Sam Amick and Kelly Iko not only reconstruct the troubled adventure of Mike D’Antoni in Houston over the past four years, but also recount the complicated decision made by the Rockets manager to leave behind a major chapter of his career. A choice communicated in a particular way to Texan executives and above all to Daryl Morey – the main proponent of the small-ball project carried out by Houston in recent seasons. D’Antoni, at the end of the game lost to the Lakers that sentenced the Rockets to elimination, stayed for dinner late in the company of Morey; starter of a long night made of comparisons with managers and players about the results obtained in the season just ended. All except Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the franchise with whom there had already been many disagreements in coincidence with the annual renewal agreed 12 months ago. A phone call awaited to plan the future that did not arrive even the next morning, spent by the Rockets waiting for the departure for the return scheduled for the early afternoon. A conversation that seemed obvious at this point would not take place.

The team then began boarding almost full – with some players left in Florida and returning to their home (such as Austin Rivers, a resident less than 20 kilometers from Disney World) and others like Russell Westbrook, who took off on a flight. private for Los Angeles. Before getting on the flight, D’Antoni had by now very clear in mind that he did not want to get involved in a new complicated negotiation with the Texans, preferring to understand what his true value was on the market, and for this he contacted his agent Warren LeGarie to communicate his decision. An announcement, however, to be made only while the team was flying, in order to prevent the rumors from reaching the group of players and managers – at that moment isolated in the skies of the United States. During the trip, therefore, no one was aware of the decision already made by the coach, who only just before landing (and that the phones were switched on again) spilled the beans. A choice that surprised – and angered – Morey, who immediately understood and respected that turning point, while an excited D’Antoni began to hug and greet every member of the staff and team. Once at the airport, everyone went their own way; aware that things would no longer be the same for anyone.