The Curious Case of the Los Angeles Lakers
With the firing of Mike Brown six games into the season, upper management of the Los Angeles Lakers sent a resoundingly clear message to their team, the rest of the league, and whoever fills the vacated role as head coach: They want to win…NOW. Accordingly, as often the case when a lucrative team becomes coach-less, the legendary Phil Jackson found his name being tossed around in discussions. Sure enough, word spread the Lakers were arranging meetings with Jackson and his people, and the consensus was that the job was his to turn down.
Enter Mike D’Antoni. The former Master of Ceremonies for the Phoenix Suns’ run and gun show, D’Antoni had been away from the league since resigning from the New York Knicks late last season amid all-around struggles. By Sunday, everyone – including D’Antoni himself – was shocked to hear he had been chosen over Jackson to be the Lakers new head coach. Kurt Rambis, former Lakers coach and friend of Jackson, soon after revealed that the Lakers signed D’Antoni before even having their scheduled meeting with Jackson on Monday. For better or worse, the Lakers have embarked on a new path with a new ringleader. Though lacking the hardware that his competition boasted, D’Antoni’s knack for offensive distribution will certainly be on display with a starting five as loaded as the Lakers. There’s no reason the Lakers shouldn’t thrive under D’Antoni but one must wonder how fans will perceive the decision to overlook someone as connected to Laker folklore as Jackson.
Perhaps, this is the year that D’Antoni reaches the top of the coaching mountain. Perhaps not. Whatever the case is, the Lakers have done what they believe to best for their already great chances of season (and postseason) success. And that could be a very bad thing for other title contenders.