Rangers coach bonds with Knicks
By TIM BONTEMPS
After working down the hall from each other inside the Garden's Westchester practice facility for almost two years, you would expect Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni and Rangers coach John Tortorella to be well acquainted.
Though the two looked like old friends yesterday as they each led a team of 10 kids from the Harlem Dowling West Side Center in the Garden of Dreams Coaches Challenge at the facility, they said the only time they see each other is in the cafeteria.
"Lunchtime every day," D'Antoni told The Post. "He's in there with his hockey guys, and I'm with my basketball guys."
Both men admitted they tried to get a chance to get to know each other outside of the Greenburgh facility sooner, but their busy schedules have kept it from happening.
"I know our wives have gotten together prior to this, and we have talked about trying to get together, but our schedules are just ridiculous," Tortorella said. "I think it's probably going to be something in the offseason when maybe the wives and men get together.
"I've heard so many great things about him, and he's someone I'd like to get to know. We just really haven't had much of a chance to sit down and get into that stuff because we're both going 100 miles an hour during the season."
The two men may coach different teams in different sports, but they both know what it's like to experience the highs and lows that come with coaching under the Garden's bright lights.
"I see him during the day, and when things are going well, they're going well," Tortorella said. "And when they're going bad, we talk it out a little bit."
"We commiserate at times," D'Antoni said. "He's a great guy and a great coach. He lives pretty close to me out in Westchester, so we'll probably hook up for some dinners."
With both the Knicks and Rangers fighting for playoff spots, the coaches said they appreciated having a chance to take a step back from the day-to-day grind of a playoff chase to engage in some light-hearted competition. Tortorella's team won.
"It's nice because you feel it's worth something," D'Antoni said. "And anytime you can do that and give something back to the community and maybe touch a life every once in a while, that's fantastic."
"Both our teams are going through their ups and downs," Tortorella said. "We lost a tough one [Monday night in Detroit], but to get involved with this, it makes you remember what we're supposed to be really doing.
"It's certainly helped my day, I'll tell you that right now."