by Marcel Mutoni

The inevitable happened last night. Down 3-1 in the series, Phoenix walked into San Antonio, hung around until the very end, but ultimately lost and saw their season come to an end. And now it appears as though their coach will not return.

Jack McCallum, the man who wrote the celebrated book 07 Seconds or Less about the 2004-05 Suns, reports that the Mike D’Antoni Era in Phoenix is over.

Mike D’Antoni, the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2004-05 season and the man credited with re-invigorating fast-break basketball in a league gone stale, will not be back to coach the Phoenix Suns for the 2008-09 season, SI.com has learned.

Sources within the organization confirm that D’Antoni feels he does not have the backing of upper management–specifically owner Robert Sarver and general manager Steve Kerr — and considers the situation irredeemable.

McCallum paints it as a philosophical rift between Mike D’Antoni and GM Steve Kerr. Kerr wants things done differently – Steve had the gall to suggest playing defense – while D’Antoni and his .707 coaching record in Phoenix refuses to budge.

The Suns made it clear that they no longer believed in D’Antoni’s run-and-gun system when they acquired Shaquille O’Neal; with the writing clearly on the wall and the pain of another postseason failure, Mike D’Antoni had no choice but to go.