See Ya Mike! Perspective From A Lakers Fan
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) May 1, 2014
As a life-long, die-hard Lakers fan this article will be a bit skewed but I will try to be as objective as possible. I have nothing against Mike D’Antoni and actually thought he did a great job during his time with the Phoenix Suns but this was another case of an NBA retread coach being hired by a team without a true understanding of its talent and future. D’Antoni was put in a no-win situation created by Jim and, yes, Jeanie Buss when the front office brutally mishandled his hiring.
After rumors broke that Phil Jackson would return to the Lakers two years ago, the front office pulled the bone-head move on a late Sunday night of changing its mind last second and selecting D’Antoni. This was a team that had won the majority of its last championships playing solid if not great defense. Heck, even Mike Brown was a defensive minded coach. The belief by management that D’Antoni would come in and continue that defensive trend while adding his fast-pace, high-scoring offense was a dire mistake. The results, the Lakers did not play defense and its stars– Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and, yes, Dwight Howard–all gave up on D’Antoni by the end of last season.
When news broke today that he resigned I was happy…
Happy days are here again! Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 1, 2014
…but not as happy as Magic was but I still was elated to see the franchise was now free of the albatross created by Jim and Jeanie Buss. The question now is whether the Lakers will learn from their mistakes and proceed in a positive manner or will the boy who would be king (Jim Buss) still blunder his handling of the on-court aspects of this team. First and foremost, as much as I and any Lakers fan is appreciative of what Kobe Bryant has done and meant for this franchise, it is time to move on. He is not the centerpiece of a championship team, he simply isn’t, but he is a valuable and key part in helping to develop and lead whichever young talent comes in to be the next chapter in the greatest franchise in sports. (YES! I’m biased!).
Here are a few thoughts on some of the names being mentioned as possible replacements for D’Antoni:
Byron Scott: I have always hoped he’d return and lead the Lakers and even though some of his luster has worn off, if he is able to bring Kyrie Irving to Hollywood, I say give it a shot.
George Karl: See my retread comments regarding D’Antoni. His time has passed.
Stan or Jeff Van Gundy: ehhh.
Mark Jackson: I love it but will Golden State let him go? (Update: was fired on 5/7/14)
Kevin Ollie: He just won a National Championship at UCONN so it may be tough to get him to leave but he played in the NBA, earned a ton of respect from his teammates and unlike D’Antoni he handled the job of following a legend with perfection. He’s my pick!
It’s going to be an interesting off-season for the Lakers. Will the lotto play out in their favor? Will they trade their selection and acquire the rights to Kevin Love? Will Pau Gasol return and will they spend money on a big free agent this off-season? There are many questions left to be answered but for this Lakers fan it makes for an exciting summer! Don’t screw it up Jimmy!
Editor’s Note: That would be me, I am not disillusioned enough to believe that Phil Jackson would have won under the same circumstances as D’Antoni and I do not believe this is going to be a quick fix. If this is handled right by the Lakers management, they will be relevant again in two to three years. I try not to drink the Kool-Aid.