Mike D’Antoni Upgrades, But Lakers’ Problems Remain


July 6, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA assistant coach Mike D

There’s a conclusion to the 72 hour saga of who will coach the Los Angeles Lakers, but there is hardly any resolution. Mike D’Antoni is the next head coach, but the player’s are still the same. Mike D’Antoni will inherit the same problems that resulted in Mike Brown’s firing Friday morning.

I cannot think of a another coach who advanced to the second round of the playoffs, and was fired after 1 season. Mike Brown coached a total of 92 games with the Lakers. That’s 70 regular season games (65 last year, and 5 this year), 12 post-season games, and 10 preseason games. Excluding the 10 preseasn games, Mike Brown was fired after 82 games, after 1 season.

Here’s another NBA coaching first: a head coach who was fired only to get a better job. That’s more common in baseball, as great coaches like Joe Torre had little success early on with multiple franchises, and were fired only to have legendary success with a legendary franchise. Lane Kiffin has been parlaying unsuccessful seasons into better jobs for the last 6 years, but D’Antoni really scored here. He was fired in New York which is all hype and no success. No one has had a better opportunity than the one they were fired from since, I guess Mike Brown. The Lakers have expectations and a history of success, right Mike Brown?

D’Antoni was run out of town by disgruntled superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. At least in LA, he won’t have to deal with any superstar players that ran any coaches out of town. Mike Brown and Stan Van would surely agree.

Mike D’Antoni was brought in presumably because of his relationship with Steve Nash, and ability to run and gun a high-powered offense. But critics think the Lakers are too old to run that type of offense. At practice today reserve Antawn Jamisondisputed that assertion with another one, they could still get up and down the court. As a rule of thumb, if you feel the need to defend it, it’s probably not true. If the Lakers could run the floor, they would—they wouldn’t need to say they can.

May 8, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson on the bench prior to game four against the Dallas Mavericks for the second round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Phil Jackson looks like the odd man out, and the Lakers appear to have called his bluff with his apparent demands. Allegedly he demanded absurd money, that he wouldn’t to go on some road games, and control of basketball personnel decisions.

But really the Lakers organization are the ones who look bad. They practically begged Phil Jackson to come back, but then pulled his big tall chair out from under him at the last minute. Phil had nothing to gain from coming back, but was going to be the bigger man and come rescue the franchise that he won 5 NBA titles with. He must be laughing at the childish antics of  Jim Buss. Jim Buss begged Phil to come to his birthday party, then threw a temper tantrum and universally decided Phil isn’t invited.

With Phil coming back, it was just about a foregone conclusion that the Lakers would win the NBA title. Now the only question the Lakers answered was who is the current head coach. Today, its about as much the same certainty they had when Mike Brown was the coach.

He may not have been the best coach in the league, but on a personal note I will miss the fashion statement Mike Brown pioneered. Jeff Tressel and Mike Ditka are the faces most notably seen snuggled into a sweater-vest, but Mike Brown was THE pioneer of the sweater-vest with basketball shorts. Comfort and style, and a lot more free time to enjoy it.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Mike Brown Mike D'Antoni Phil Jackson

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