April 27, 2009
Mike D'Antoni, who has blazed a trail in the NBA coaching ranks that only the best have emulated, will be the guest speaker at the 30th Big Green Scholarship Dinner on May 21 where he will be joined by his family, teammates and coaches from his years at Marshall University.
D'Antoni, current head coach of the NBA New York Knicks and a member of the coaching staff of the gold medal U.S. Olympic team just a summer ago, will be coming home to West Virginia to help the Big Green Scholarship Foundation raise money for student-athletes at his alma mater.
"What an opportunity we have to bring back one of our own to honor him at Marshall," said Big Green Executive Director John Sutherland. "To bring in someone who is an Olympic coach, NBA head coach, and Marshall Hall of Famer is a once in a lifetime chance. Mike comes from a basketball family from a basketball town and has brought a great deal of pride to our state and our school. Anyone who knows him will tell you he's first class."
Besides Mike, special guests at the Big Sandy Super Store Arena will be the D'Antoni family that includes his brother Danny and father Louis. Danny, like Mike, is a member of the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame and Louis was a very successful long-time high school coaching legend in Mullens, W.Va., and Chesapeake, Ohio. Danny, after a successful high school coaching career in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is currently an assistant coach with the Knicks.
Also attending will be some of Mike's teammates from his early-70s years at Marshall, plus his coaches Carl Tacy, Bob Daniels and Bill Robinette. Teammates who are coming include Randy Noll, Bill James and Gary Orsini and Eric Bachelor.
Corporate table sponsorships and individual tickets for the Pepsi sponsored 7 p.m. dinner are still available by calling the Big Green office at 304-696-4661 or toll free at 866-443-7310.
Mike, the 57-year-old native from Mullens, was the point guard for one of the Thundering Herd's great teams in 1973, which was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation, After a legendary playing and coaching career in Italy, he brought his fast-breaking offense to the NBA in 2003 where he coached the Suns from the bottom of the league to title contenders. In 2005 he was selected NBA Coach of the Year. In four years his Suns team had a 253-135 record, winning 50-plus games each year and three straight Pacific Division crowns.
Early last summer Mike became the 24th head coach of the New York Knicks and shortly afterwards was a member of Coach Mike Kryzewski's staff who directed the 2008 Olympic team on its udefeated run for the gold medal in Beijing, China.
Mike's travels as a coach and a player have taken him around the world and now bring him back to his home state. "I'm looking forward to going back to Huntington. It's going to be a lot of fun," he said as he contemplated a few days sharing memories with family, Herd fans and former teammates and coaches.