The Lakers threw everybody for a loop when they fired head coach Mike Brown (above), but they threw everybody for an even bigger loop by not hiring Phil Jackson. Photo by Jeff Lewis
Please do not argue with the Sports Editor. That’s like hiring a coach with no championships over a coach that has won 11. It’s just a bad idea. Illustration by David G. Brown.
I stand here on my soapbox, and I really don’t know what to say about these Lakers. So…Phil Jackson, with his 11 championships, five with the Lakers, was ready to come back to coach this collection of future Hall of Fame players, and that’s not what the Lakers want?
Ah, yeah, I am really at a lost for words for that one.
Lakers management, which some people believe starts and ends with Jim Buss, chose Mike D’Antoni, who is only a mere 11 titles behind Jackson.
The D’Antoni hire would have made sense if Jackson was not interested in the job, or if the Lakers could not have come to terms with him. D’Antoni would have been a pretty good back up plan, because he has been a highly successful NBA coach…outside of winning championships.
But according to reports, D’Antoni was not a back up plan. He was not the second option. Nope, that was exactly what the Lakers wanted, even with Jackson on board to coach the team.
I’m sorry, but that just makes no sense. D’Antoni’s resume looks a lot like recently fired Mike Brown’s resume. A lot of regular season victories. A decent amount of post-season victories. But no championships. At least Brown has been to the NBA Finals.
The difference between Brown and D’Antoni is that they find different ways to flame out in the playoffs. Brown does it with tough defense but not much offense, and D’Antoni does it with a lot of offense but absolutely no defense. Either way, the results have been the same.
Apparently D’Antoni impressed Buss, and his father, by talking X’s and O’s, and sold them on all the great things that he could do with this roster. He sold them on an up tempo offense that could resemble Showtime. The Lakers should have an exciting offense, but at the end of the season, are they going to win a title? Not with D’Antoni’s track record.
Jackson does not have to sell anybody on X’s and O’s. Whatever all that Zen stuff really is, it works. His strengths go way past X’s and O’s. It’s dealing with egos. And we all know that Kobe Bryant has a huge one. The “death stare” did Brown in. What’s going to happen if things are not going well? Will D’Antoni get the “death stare” too? One thing is for sure, Jackson has never gotten a “death stare,” because he is respected and he wins. He wins championships. He is on the level of Bryant, but Brown and D’Antoni are not.
The Lakers better have a good reason for not going with Jackson. There are rumors that Jackson had demands such as not going on all of the road trips, or wanting a stake in the team. There were also reports that he did not seem committed to the idea of coming back, and asked for time to think about it.
Seeing that Jackson struggled through his final year with the Lakers, and had to be convinced to come back that season, then it would be understandable that they wanted to go in a different direction.
Okay, so D’Antoni is the coach. Can this actually work? Well, Steve Nash should be extremely happy, because he will finally be utilized. Bryant is on board because he likes to score a lot of points. But will Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol like D’Antoni’s offense, which is designed to keep low post players out of the paint?
For Howard, who does not have all that many low post moves to begin with, it could work, because he plays great off of the pick ‘n roll. But big men have had a lot of success in the low post in the triangle, which would better suit Gasol and Howard.
With Nash being able to play to his strengths, it could take some of the pressure off of Bryant, and get him a lot of open looks.
But the question still remains, what about the defense, and what about the Lakers bench, which has been horrible?
The Lakers are really gambling with this hire. With the starting unit that they have, the easy bet would be the guy with all the titles, not the guy selling an exciting brand of basketball that has never won anything.