Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has a message for fans who repeatedly boo Jared Jeffries anytime he misses a layup.
“Anybody who boos Jared Jeffries has got to re-examine their life a little bit,” D’Antoni said following the Knicks 99-88 victory over the Utah Jazz at MSG.
“I love our fans and I like Madison Square Garden, the arena, but here’s a guy who came back to us, minimum contract. He could’ve gone to a lot of other teams. He plays as hard as anybody could possibly ever play, with injuries, everything you ask him. He takes every charge, every dirty play, every rebound. He works every second.”
Jeffries made his first start April 5, 2011 and finished with a season-high 13 points to go with eight rebounds. He took five charges but he shot 3-for-9 from the field, drawing the fans’ ire every time he missed a layup.
“There are people that look at that and go, ‘Well, I think I’ll boo him,'” D’Antoni said. “I have a hard time believing that. It’s like, ‘Oh, he missed that.’ Yeah, I understand the frustration. I understand it would be great if he could do it, but you boo what is good about America. To me, it’s like, are you kidding me? Are you serious? To me that’s no good, but anyway. Love ’em anyway, I guess.”
Fans still hold Jeffries accountable for his botched play in Game 2 of the playoffs last year against the Boston Celtics in which he passed up an open layup in favor of a pass to Billy Walker that was intercepted by Kevin Garnett.
“I think that a lot of it is from mistakes I’ve made in the past, mistakes I make now now,” Jeffries said. “But I think I always go out there and play as hard as I can. I play with a lot of effort, a lot of energy. And sometimes fans love me, sometimes they hate me, but that’s not going to affect how much I love this city, how much I enjoy playing at the Garden, and wanting to be part of a winning team here. Me and coach have a great relationship.
He added: “I’ll die for him. I’ll leave blood on the court. That’s why I take charges, why I dive out there. Because he’s the best coach in the NBA. There’s no coach in the NBA that’s a better players coach and you see that with Jeremy Lin. No other coach in the league would have given Jeremy the opportunity he has now. No other coach in the league would give me this chance, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Steve Novak. The way we played tonight is a tribute to what coach is able to do in getting the best out of his players.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.