There was no Twitter, no Facebook, and no blogs when Mike D’Antoni was hired as coach of the Phoenix Suns in 2003. I’m assuming the news was reported in the more traditional way – a front page of the local sports page, a segment on Sportscenter with brief footage of the press conference, and a couple links on websites. At the time, the Suns were an “average” team lead by various PGs. Then, in 2004, came THE point guard. Using a frantic style dubbed “7 Seconds of Less”, coaching, tempo, and player came together at the right time. The Suns transcended basketball into mythology in the ensuing years.
“Seven Seconds or Less” by Jack McCallum documented the Suns 2005-06 season in which the Suns became more of an idea than a team lead by their European bread coach and Canadian point guard. The phrase entered basketball lexicon and signified an exciting, forward thinking brand of team basketball whose key features were passing, shooting 3’s, and tempo. The good times ended with the appointment of Steve Kerr as general manager. His moves preferred a more pragmatic, traditional approach to team play as D’Antoni left the team.
When D’Antoni was hired as Knicks coach in 2008, blogs and Facebook were maturing as both sources of self expression and news while Twitter was still in its infancy. If the Phoenix Suns era were defined by ESPN articles and a book, D’Antoni’s NY era could be defined by one word: Lin-sanity. The details grow more astounding in hindsight – a 3000% increase to the Knicks online store; a Sports Illustrated cover; the highest selling NBA jersey for February and March; and the best “you know you made it when” moment, a rumored date with Kim Kardashian.
News that the Lakers had hired Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson as head coach broke on Sunday night on Twitter. The original Tweet from Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan received 1599 retweets and 54 favorites. The impact of the “Seven Seconds or Less” revolution will no longer measured in books or lexicon, but in instant Twitter analysis.