After gathering his thoughts, Dustin unloads his thoughts on the Lakers current situation and the potential disaster in the hiring of new coach Mike D’Antoni.
I can count on one hand the times I’ve felt completely helpless and that there was no hope for what I was about to endure;
Well, today we move to number six; the Lakers have hired Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach to replace the recently fired Mike Brown.
The move comes from far out of left field as media outlets had been reporting all weekend that the job was Phil Jackson’s to take. Yes, the Phil Jackson that led the team to 5 championships and retired in a blaze of glory in a fit of controversy as Andrew Bynum leveled J.J. Barea and the Lakers got manhandled by the Dallas Mavericks.
I assume that somewhere in Montana, Jeanie Buss (daughter of Lakers honcho Jerry Buss, brother of new Lakers honcho Jim, who just happens to be with Jackson romantically) answered the phone and retrieved a peyote-smoking meditating Phil from a mountain in the snow to tell him the Lakers wanted him to coach Kobe, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and to do his best with the rest of the roster in search for even more championships to add to his illustrious coaching career.
The move made perfect sense and Lakers fans and players began to chomp at the bit at the return of “the Zen-Master.”
But this is where life likes to ball up its’ fist and hit you in the stomach with a heavy dose of reality; Phil Jackson did not return to LA with a hero’s welcome. Instead, he received a call at midnight informing him that the Lakers were going to hire Mike D’Antoni to be their new head coach. The move is head scratching for more reasons than just the obvious one; D’Antoni is an inferior coach to Jackson.
The move continues Lakers VP Jim Buss’ attempt to distance himself from his father, and team owner, Jerry Buss’ legacy. After Jackson retired in 2011, Jim Buss and the team announced Mike Brown would fill the head coaching vacancy, a shocking deviation from the public perception that assistant Brian Shaw would be promoted and the illustrious “triangle” offense would continue. Rumors began almost immediately that Kobe and Brown didn’t see eye-to-eye and though the Lakers made the playoffs, they were bounced in the second round by OKC and the general consensus became that they just weren’t young enough to run with the Thunder.
Everyone remembers the off-season that followed; Nash, Dwight and sky-high expectations came to LA and the Lakers found themselves once again with “Title or Bust” as the mantra for the season.
Those expectations haven’t gone anywhere and that creates the problem with hiring Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni has never excelled when the pressure is on, yes, he orchestrated fantastic regular seasons that saw Steve Nash win two MVPs with the Suns, but the Suns floundered in the playoffs, never making the Finals. Then, D’Antoni oversaw a stacked Knicks team that failed to utilize Carmelo Anthony, A’mare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and even Linsanity and about halfway through last season, he resigned as Knicks coach amid rumors he and Anthony didn’t get along and a record of 18-24.
For the Lakers, yes, D’Antoni will help Nash as he is experienced with the “7-second” offense D’Antoni likes to use, which is in itself, the biggest contradiction of this entire situation.
The popular belief is that Mike Brown was fired as Lakers coach because the team is ranked in the bottom half of the league for most defensive categories. The team has been an absolute liability on defense; Dwight is defending like a man afraid of his surgically repaired back giving out again, the young point guards of the league are tearing the older, slower Lakers PGs apart, really only Kobe has retained the defensive intensity he’s known for.
D’Antoni has even expressed his dis-interest in defense as opposed to run-and-gun offense and putting up enough points to not even have to worry about defense.
So now D’Antoni is expected to come in, energize this under-achieving team on defense; a subject he could care less about, and get Steve Nash, who’s missed all but three games with a fractured fibula, to return to his two-time MVP winning form while sharing the ball with Kobe and Dwight Howard.
This all sounds about as likely as me growing 4 inches, gaining the ability to dunk and being signed by the Toronto Raptors; which is to say, there’s no way all of that is happening.
Which leads to the last point of this mistake; when Jim Buss and co called Phil Jackson at midnight to tell him they didn’t want him, they likely burned their bridge with the “Zen Master” for the rest of time. Yes, Jackson is dating Jim’s sister Jeanie Buss and has been since 2001, but I can’t imagine him ever even entertaining the thought of coaching the team that dicked him over publically and I don’t blame him.
This Lakers season is all but currently doomed; the team is underachieving, Metta World Peace is still on the team and now upper management is biting their nose to spite their face with the greatest coach of all time just because they don’t want to admit that the “Triangle” should have stayed in place all along.
Originally, this was going to all be about how I’ve been disappointed at every move the Lakers have made and how the hiring of D’Antoni has me jumping ship on the team for the rest of the season, too disgusted to watch my childhood team struggle. But honestly at this point I’m sure many Lakers fans will begin to find their eyes wandering, most likely towards the team we share Staples Center with. I’m not saying I’ll be sad should say, the Thunder advance out of the West, but I can’t find myself ready to bury the Lakers.
That’s Mike D’Antoni’s job this season.