HUNTINGTON — It has been 50 years since Dan and Mike D’Antoni were teammates on Marshall’s men’s basketball team.
Now, a half-century later, the D’Antoni brothers have teamed up once again.
This time, though, the game is a bit different.
Instead of basketball, the brothers are playing bridge, the popular card game that involves four players with two-person teams facing each other.
“We love it,” Dan D’Antoni said. “We just enjoy the game and it’s a chance for us all to get together.”
How often do the D’Antonis join in for a game?
“I’m playing right now,” D’Antoni said in a phone call on Thursday afternoon. “And if I’m talking to you, I’m not playing very well. Mike is cussing me right now, ‘Dang it. Start paying attention.’ ”
There’s a reason that Mike D’Antoni is adamant about brother Dan D’Antoni paying attention to the game.
The competition is fierce. The D’Antonis are are playing online via an app against their sister, Kathy, and friend Jim Sorrent from Charleston.
“Normally, they kick our tails, but they’ve been doing it for years and years,” Dan D’Antoni said. “Lately it’s been getting a bit more even, though.”
The D’Antoni brothers connect for the game and then call each other to work out in-game strategies together — thus the reason for Mike’s frustration with Dan taking an interview call in the midst of a game.
“If I’m on here, that means I’m not talking to him,” Dan D’Antoni laughed.
Each day at 3 p.m., the four players connect for a game of Bridge that generally takes them up until dinnertime around 6 or 6:30 p.m.
Normally, Mike D’Antoni would be strategizing for a playoff run as head coach of the Houston Rockets.
However, with the NBA still awaiting word in the next two weeks on whether the 2019-20 season will be completed or not, Mike’s strategies instead come with his brother and former NBA coaching counterpart.
For Dan D’Antoni, there are many similarities between basketball and bridge that make it fun for all involved.
“First off, it’s competitive, and there’s a lot of strategy involved,” he said. “It’s a thinking game. You are trying to outsmart your opponent.”
Both Dan and Mike are relative rookies to bridge in comparison to Kathy, who, Dan said, has competed in tournaments. In true D’Antoni fashion, however, the brothers are trying to get creative with their thinking to find a way to win.
The good news for the D’Antonis is that while there are similarities between basketball and bridge, there is one distinct difference at game’s end.
“You enjoy the competitive part of it, but at the same time, it’s not killing you if you lose,” Dan D’Antoni said. “You don’t sit up and think about it all night. The way we’re wired, that’s good.”
Dan D’Antoni said the games began once the COVID-19 shutdown started because they were all stuck together in the house.
With Dan D’Antoni being 72 years old and Mike D’Antoni having recently turned 69, they have been cautious about not going out in public to avoid potential health risks.
In that sense, the game’s name is fitting.
It is helping the D’Antonis bridge the gap of time until basketball returns.