Mike D'antoni

Mike D'Antoni’s nearly four-year tenure as Knicks coach came to a surprising end today when he reached a mutual decision with the team to step aside. In this 1987 photo, the guard dribbles for Tracer Milan of the Italian League during a game against the USSR. D'Antoni was 121-167 since being hired by New York in May 2008.  (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

AMICK: D'Antoni out as Knicks coach
GALLERY: Iconic Knicks Photos

A day ago, it seemed like Phil Jackson was a lock to return to the Lakers but by Sunday night, former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was the Lakers choice after talks with Jackson broke down. In this 1987 photo, L.A.’s new coach dribbles for Tracer Milan of the Italian League during a game against the USSR. D’Antoni was 121-167 during his four seasons coaching the Knicks.  (Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

GOLLIVER: Lakers pass on Jackson, choose D'Antoni

“He just said it was the point of no return. If he holds on much longer, we might never get out of this. We might be in a position where we didn’t make the playoffs, and he didn’t want that for us. He said as a team, we were talented enough to make the playoffs and make a run and that he really wasn’t getting through to us the way he wanted to.”

Jared Jefferies about Coach D'Antoni in The New York Times

And as you conjure the image of Mike D'Antoni clinging to life, but letting go of your hand anyway so that you can "save yourself!“ you start to think of him endearingly.

The one thing you have to say about Kobe is his intensity, and that goes a long way. As your body gets older, you lose it mentally. You don’t want to train. You’re just tired. You got a lot of money, and you know what, it’s hard. Kobe is not going to let that happen to him. He’s too intense and too much of a champion.
—  Mike D'Antoni on Kobe’s work ethic