It just warms all of my ventricles to see Mike D'Antoni cheerful and effusive after a game. I'd fallen into the habit of grumpily shutting off my TV after the final buzzer, but I realized last night that if I left it on, I'd quite enjoy the programming. Indeed, D'Antoni was in rare form. Howard Beck captured his best lines:
He called Jeffries’s performance "unbelievably good," then paused and said, "Indulge me one second.
"Anybody who boos Jared Jeffries has got to re-examine their life a little bit," D’Antoni said. "I’m sorry to have to — I love our fans, and I like Madison Square Garden, the arena — but here’s a guy who came back to us, minimum contract. He could have gone to a lot of other teams. He plays as hard as anybody could possibly ever play, with injuries, everything you ask him. He takes every charge, every dirty play, every rebound. He works every second.
And that's just a portion of D'Antoni's paean-rant. To be fair, the Garden crowd isn't as prone to booing Jeffries as they are to groaning when he lines up a jumper (which is hilarious and mostly involuntary, but definitely doesn't help matters). If anybody needs to be defended from booing, it's Toney Douglas.
Either way, Jeffries caught wind of that comment and volleyed some plaudits right back at his coach:
"Me and coach have a great relationship, and I’ll die for him," Jeffries said. "That’s why I take charges, why I dive out there, because he’s the best coach in the N.B.A. There’s no coach in the N.B.A. that’s a better players’ coach...
Good thing I didn't get all choked up when I read that late last night! That would have been embarrassing.
For more good vibez between D'Antoni and Jeremy Lin, take the jump.
From Beck again:
"I’m riding him like freaking Secretariat," Coach Mike D’Antoni said, laughing. "I was going to take him out, and he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want to come out.’ "
That moment came with about 15 minutes left. Lin said he knew he could push through, and he thanked D’Antoni for the show of faith.
"He left me in, through all the mistakes," Lin said. "And I think that’s huge, when you’re a player and you have eight turnovers in a game and he lets you play through it. That’s unbelievable."
So, that's pretty sweet, too (although what is Lin, stupid? He almost made himself become dead! If I played that much sports without a rest I would probably turn to a dead guy.).
Anyway, D'Antoni and most other parties involved also expressed patience and an appropriate level of uncertainty with the current state of affairs, but just to hear everybody in good spirits and exchanging kudos without having to grasp at straws is really, really lovely and mustn't be taken for granted after what the team's been through this season.