Enough time has passed now that D'Antoni can admit where he went wrong. It's not one of those plays he regrets, it's a decision.
His decision to leave.
"I shouldn't have gone to New York," he says, looking down at the sideline in Memphis, pacing on that unstable right leg.
"I should have stuck in there and battled. You don't get to coach somebody like him [Nash] too many times. It's pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn't."
D'Antoni has never told Nash this.
It feels good to confess.
"I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That's why I left. We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren't good enough either. We have to understand that.
"I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn't have left. That was my fault."
The story I've always heard is that it was a mutual parting. The Suns' ownership group and new general manager Steve Kerr pushed him to hire a defensive assistant. His system was questioned. Everything was.
Sure the Suns could outscore everyone, but could they win a championship? Could D'Antoni? Was the team flawed? Was he? Did they just have horrible luck? Did he need to change? Could he?
When the Knicks job came open in the spring of 2008, the Suns let him go.
"No. It was me," D'Antoni admits now. "I initiated it and I probably shouldn't have."
Everything about New York felt wrong. The Knicks weren't built to win any time soon. In fact, it was probably better if they lost enough to get lottery picks. D'Antoni's job was to build his players' statistics up enough so that the Knicks could trade them and clear more salary-cap space for the summer of 2010 and make a run at LeBron James and the other stars of that free-agent class.
He accepted the terms, but it felt wrong. That's not how basketball should be.
Chris Duhon was the point guard on D'Antoni's first team in New York.
"It was tough for him because as soon as a guy learned his system, he might be gone," Duhon says. "It was tough for us, too. I mean, we made like three big trades that year. We started off like 8-3 and we made a trade, then we made another trade close to Christmas, and another one near the trade deadline. It was hard to get comfortable."
Trust was impossible. Joy was fleeting. D'Antoni might have learned to accept losing huge games to San Antonio in the playoffs, but this was different.
"We had a three-year plan and it was good," D'Antoni says. "There were good aspects of it. But it was better the other way [in Phoenix]."
And it's better now.