Sunday, December 11, 2011
Bibby always wanted to play for D'Antoni
By Jared Zwerling
NEW YORK -- At the Knicks' practice facility on Sunday, the Knicks' newest acquisition, point guard Mike Bibby, wouldn't say which teams were courting him during free agency. But the fact that he had the opportunity to accomplish something in New York he hadn't done in his career likely sealed the deal.
"I always wanted to play for [Mike] D'Antoni, and here's my chance," said Bibby, the same day he signed a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum and had his first practice with the Knicks.
After starting for four different teams in his 13 years in the NBA, Bibby wasn't concerned about coming in as a backup to third-year player Toney Douglas. In fact, Bibby is even fine with providing Douglas and rookie Iman Shumpert established veteran leadership from the bench -- literally.
"I'm going to come in and fill the role that needs to be filled, and then go from there," Bibby said. "If that stands for me standing on the sidelines cheering, that's what I've got to do. I'm here to win and play the role that they want me to play -- whatever it is."
That flexibility and team approach were factors that drew D'Antoni to Bibby, who has helped lead three different teams -- the Kings, Hawks and Heat -- into the later rounds of the postseason.
"The easy thing was that Mike Woodson coached him in Atlanta, and his first words were, 'Whatever you need from him, he'll give you; from the bench, from the starter, from not playing,'" D'Antoni said. "Whatever we ask he would do, and he would do it professionally. That's a no-brainer."
Chances are Bibby also gravitated toward the notion of playing alongside arguably the league's best frontcourt trio, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
"It's going to be fun," Bibby said, "I'm just trying to get them the ball where they need to score and win games."
After facing him in the 2011 NBA Finals, Chandler calls Bibby a "deadly shooter." Bibby is 38.1 percent accurate from downtown, and he's also a savvy passer who has averaged 5.7 assists per game in his career. His biggest weakness is that he's a defensive liability, which he showed against the Mavericks trying to stay in front of the bigger Jason Kidd and quicker J.J. Barea.
Bibby admits that joining the Heat late season in March was a tough situation, especially only having four full practices, but he has a response for his critics who doubt he can help the Knicks.
"I don't care what you guys say about me," Bibby said. "I don't have nothing to prove. Ever since I came in, people have doubted me. I'm going into my 14th year. I'm going to go out and do whatever it takes to help the team win."