|Knicks' Richardson eager for reunion with D'Antoni|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 17 May 2008 05:46|
Richardson has history on the side of his answer.
He was with Phoenix for D'Antoni's first season there, the 2004-05 campaign in which the Suns went from an 29-win team to a 62-win club that reached the Western Conference finals - one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history.
And the Knicks' swingman doesn't see any reason why a similar tale can't come true next year, when he reunites with D'Antoni in turnaround-starved New York.
``My season I spent in Phoenix with Coach D as the coach, that was the best season of my career,'' Richardson told The Associated Press during a break from his offseason training in Chicago, where he's working out with Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat.
``Career-high in wins, I was with a great group of guys, we played a fun style and he made it that way. He had that environment conducive to the way we played, and that was a big part of our chemistry. And we hope it happens again, sooner than later.''
D'Antoni was hired earlier this month to coach the moribund Knicks, who are coming off a 23-59 season and endured more than a few rocky stretches under former coach Isiah Thomas.
Richardson was one of the first people to learn that D'Antoni took the job; his new coach called to tell him the news before word leaked of the hiring.
``He told me, 'You can't get rid of me,''' Richardson said.
No need for that - Richardson made it clear he's delighted by the hiring.
He tied for the NBA lead in 3-pointers made in his one season under D'Antoni, connecting on 226. In the three seasons that have followed since joining the Knicks, Richardson - who has battled injury issues in each of those years, including a herniated disk that cut his 2007-08 season short - has made a total of 230 shots from 3-point range.
But now, his workouts are going well, he feels strong and can't wait to see what D'Antoni has in store for the Knicks.
``It's pure excitement for me,'' Richardson said. ``I'm healthy, I feel like I'm finally back to 100 percent after my back surgery, I've been working out since April 26 getting myself ready. I'm optimistic. I'm ready to get back to being the best player I can be and help us turn this thing around.''
Richardson's workouts under trainer Tim Grover typically last three hours a day, five days a week, and they're brutal. But during a particularly arduous drill during one recent session, Wade began shouting words of encouragement at Richardson, telling him just to think about all the shots he'll get next year in D'Antoni's up-tempo style.
With that, Richardson could manage a grin through his pain.
``Anybody who knows Coach D knows he's impossible not to like,'' Richardson said. ``He's a great guy, so right off the bat we know it's going to be a lot of fun. The best thing myself and the rest of the players can do is do what I'm doing now - get in the gym and get prepared for whatever Coach D wants us to do.''