Mike D’Antoni has a dilemma on his hands to say the least. The media has harassed him; he has to make a playoff push with a Lakers team that has gone 25-29, and his inability to coach defense demons continue to haunt him. I was against the D’Antoni hiring from the jump for many reasons.
The first reason I was against this hiring was because I felt Mike Brown didn’t receive a fair chance at coaching this year’s Lakers team. In the previous year, Mike Brown coached a less talented Lakers team to the playoffs with no training camp and fewer games due to the lockout season. Under Mike Brown, the Lakers weren’t a top five defensive team in the league but they were at least respectable 15th in that category.
Brown came from the Popovich learning tree when it comes to coaching defense. Brown’s only mistake, in my opinion, was trying to establish a new offensive set when he had new personnel and that personnel had to learn how to implement it.
D’Antoni has the Lakers near dead last as far as defense. It is hard to imagine why, when this team has 2 former defensive POYs and Kobe Bryant, who has made All NBA Defensive Teams for the majority of his career. Some of it may be due to old age and lack of effort, but a lot of it has to do with coaching emphasis on that end of the floor.
The second reason I was against the hiring if D’Antoni was his history. D’Antoni’s coaching style has never won him any championships or even a trip to the NBA Finals. D’Antoni has had some talented Suns teams that could never get the job done. The D’Antoni experiment went down in smoke in NY with a clash between he and Carmelo Anthony. He couldn’t mesh the talent in New York together, which forced him to resign. It may be coincidence that the Knicks have improved and the Suns finally beat the Spurs in the postseason, so we shall never know if D’Antoni was the real problem.
The last issue I had with the hiring of D’Antoni was because the Lakers had a ready and willing Phil Jackson to come coach the Lakers. Jackson’s legacy needs no introduction, as we all know he is considered by many to be the greatest coach of all time. Why the Lakers front office would shun the greatest coach of all time over a coach with virtually nothing to his résumé is beyond me.
Phil is a guy who can manage the many personalities that this Lakers team possesses. Jackson managed to convince a feuding Shaq and Kobe to get the job done and the Lakers sorely need that now. Jackson also brought out the best in Pau Gasol, while D’Antoni has forced Gasol out of his comfort zone, humiliated him and benched him. For the Lakers to be successful they need a motivated and aggressive Gasol, as opposed to a Gasol who feels left out.
D’Antoni is not a bad coach, it’s just that he is not the RIGHT coach for THIS team.