Over the course of evolution, mankind has developed language in order to convey thoughts, ideas and feelings. Probably minutes after the first formal language, man discovered using words to mislead others or to hide their true intention. This probably first occurred when Uga asked Grog if the lion skin she was wearing made her bottom look like a hippopotamus’. Deception is used in language by everyone, so it should be no surprise when a public figure does it.
Yesterday D’Antoni tried to defend his benching of Jordan Hill by saying he liked rookies, just not the “bad” ones. Minutes later he followed with “I love Toney Douglas”, which is ironic since D’Antoni ignored the rookie for the 4 months of the season. Although if you really wanted to make sense of his words, you probably could make a case. Perhaps earlier in the season D’Antoni didn’t love Toney Douglas, but now he does. And when he says the Knicks couldn’t play the 6-11 Hill because the team was in the ‘playoff hunt’, it doesn’t mean the Rockets, who really are in the playoff hunt and play Hill 16.4 minutes a night, have to adhere to the same criteria.
Perhaps I’ve been burned too often in life, but I tend to look at people’s actions more than their words. It’s easy to say what you want someone to hear, it’s more difficult to consistently go against your principles. So that D’Antoni claims that he loves rookies or that Hill was a “bad” rookie and the Knicks were in a playoff race, really doesn’t mean those are the his true feelings. Instead it’s more significant to look at what the Knicks coach actually did. Obviously early in the year D’Antoni didn’t see much value in these players. One was traded and the other all of a sudden has become a valued contributor (and starter). The real reasons we probably never know.
Ultimately his job as coach is to appropriate the playing time to the best interests in his team. And with these two rookies it appears that he failed at his task. When the team was suffering from poor point guard play and a lack of a big center, D’Antoni went with Duhon and Harrington. So he can laugh when the press asks him about liking rookies, and point to his record with Amar’e Stoudamire. But if you’re trying to prove you play rookies more than the average coach, and your best example is a future All Star that just about every coach would have played, then perhaps your actions are speaking louder than words.