Mike D’Antoni has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for just over nine months and he’s already one of the most disliked characters in Lakers history, with fans chanting “We want Phil!” on a nightly basis, hoping that the legendary Phil Jackson will return to the sidelines once again.
However, D’Antoni says he knew coming into this that Phil would cast a shadow over the franchise, and he expects future Lakers coaches to be held to Phil’s high standards for the next 10 to 15 years, according to the Los Angeles Times:
[pullquote]No, the specter of Phil Jackson never quite left the Lakers.
“I think anybody that comes in here the next 10, 15 years, it’s going to be that way,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think there is any doubt that he was so good and so large and he’s still sitting out there.
“Had that bothered me, I shouldn’t have taken the job because you know it’s going to be there. I wasn’t stupid enough to think that, ‘Oh, they won’t remember him.’ Sure they will. It doesn’t really affect what we do day-to-day and how we approach the game.”[/pullquote]
D’Antoni knew coming into this that Phil Jackson was the guy who the fans wanted to replace Mike Brown – he knew what he was getting into. Seeing as he took the heat from the media and fans in New York, D’Antoni was probably ready for the kind of abuse he’s faced in Lakerland. Also, seeing as he was once a professional player in the NBA and abroad, he’s likely been dealing with criticism for many years.
While some fans out there may still be hoping for Phil’s return, winning cures everything. If D’Antoni can get the team to play competitively every night next season, the purple and gold could surpass their expectations and surprise the majority of their fanbase.