Faster, Faster, Kill, Kill
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It's 3 AM after a tough, tough loss, and we're on the team bus. Suddenly Steve's belting Motown songs to pick the team up," says Suns coach D'Antoni. "He doesn't raise his voice or jump in guys' faces, but boy, he gets 'em ready to play. He's out there every day, doing extra shooting and running himself ragged to get guys the ball. When your superstar's your hardest-working guy – by far – well, then you've got a chance to do something special." As far as D'Antoni is concerned, if the Suns can't bring the championship to Phoenix, it won't be because Nash loses velocity. D'Antoni, who says Nash has "at least five or six years left," is sanguine about their title chances. "The escalator's still going up for us, and no one's earned a title more than Steve."

In retrospect Nash and D'Antoni were a movement waiting to happen, a pairing of contrarian minds ready to shake things up. D'Antoni, an ex-NBA point guard who traveled to Italy to keep playing, got his shot at coaching in Milan and was later hired by the Suns seven months before Nash signed on.

"I say this with the utmost respect for Mike, but he let it happen more than he made it happen; he allowed me to run the show," says Nash. "Most coaches haven't got the guts for that, or they try it for a week, and it looks ugly, so they scrap it. But I can't help it. I have to run, and Mike, to his credit, said, 'Faster.'"

D'Antoni chuckles when I quote Nash back to him. "Well, I did have my style, and we were going to play it, but I got the best guy on the planet to run it for me. As for who's the brains here, hell, I'm retiring the day Steve does, so no one figures out if it was him or me."