Wednesday , Dec , 10 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Sun sets on Johnson’s tenure in Phoenix

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – The Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Frank
Johnson after a disappointing 8-13 start this season and elevated assistant
Mike D’Antoni to head coach, effective immediately.

Johnson replaced Scott Skiles in February of 2002, and then led Phoenix to a
playoff berth last season in his first full campaign as the team’s head coach.
Phoenix posted a 44-38 record in the regular season before losing to eventual
NBA champion San Antonio in six games in the first round of the postseason.

But it’s been a different story this season.

The Suns have lost seven of their last nine games after a three-game winning
streak gave them a 6-6 record. One of those losses, a 105-98 setback to
Orlando on Monday night, enabled the Magic to halt a 19-game losing streak.

Johnson, a former player who had been an assistant with the Suns for five
years, posted a 63-76 record in two-plus seasons as the club’s head coach.

He retired from the NBA in 1994 after 10 seasons with the Suns, Washington and

D’Antoni has spent 30 years in professional basketball as a player, coach,
front office executive and scout in the NBA, ABA and the Italian League.
D’Antoni joined the Suns’ staff on June 25, 2002 as the top assistant coach.

This marks the second NBA head coaching stint for D’Antoni. He guided the
Denver Nuggets during the shortened lockout season in 1998-99, compiling a
14-36 record, and was the club’s director of player personnel in 1997-98.

D’Antoni was also on the bench as an assistant for Portland in the 2000-01
season and was hired as a scout for San Antonio during the 1999-00 campaign.