Many NBA experts who had the Zen master Phil Jackson pegged to return to the Lakers for his third tour of duty were quite surprised this Monday, as The Lakers hired former Sun's and Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni to replace the recently fired Mike Brown on the sidelines for the lake show. Now hiring D'Antoni instead of the Zen Master, who led LA to five Championships and 7 NBA finals appearances, may seem like the wrong move. Why hire a guy who could not produce in New York' and could not lead a high powered Suns to a championship? However I truly believe hiring this hire may Reignite D'Antoni's coaching career, as well as help this struggling, star studded, Laker's cast back to Hollywood prominence.
The Initial hire of Mike Brown by the Lakers was clearly a mistake. In Cleveland, Brown's defensive knowledge was on display, however at times the Cavs offense looked stale and myopic. The Laker's know how to play defense. Kobe is always on the all-defensive team, World Peace and Howard are both former defensive players of the year, and even Pao Gasol is a better defender than league perception of him would have you believe, so clearly hiring a defensive minded coach was the wrong choice. All that hiring Brown got the Lakers was an embarrassing exit in the playoffs at the hands of the Thunder last year, and an underwhelming 1-5 start this season. In my opinion the Laker's would have been better off promoting assistant coach Brian Shaw to head coach once Jackson retired for a second time.
That brings us to the Debate between D'Antoni and Jackson. Jackson's pros include; 5 championships as Laker's coach, the respect of Kobe Bryant, the history of putting talented teams over the hump, and taking Shaq to the next level of being a championship caliber center. However Jackson at this point in his life is not the perfect hire for today’s NBA. His health would've rendered him unable to travel to some road games, he has a history of publically bashing his players, including Kobe, and his triangle offense may not fit the collective talents of this team, with Gasol, Kobe, World Peace, and Steve Blake being the only remaining hold overs from Jackson's teams. Steve Nash would be ineffective in the triangle, he excels in an up tempo dribble and drive, pick and roll style, the same style that under Mike D'Antoni made Nash a two time MVP. The thought of Steve Nash having Dwight Howard and Pao Gasol to constantly run the pick and roll through is flat out scary. This would leave Kobe as a fire breathing x factor on the court, who o by the way is one of the greatest players in NBA history, and on a mission to reach and surpass Michael Jordan in Championship teams. I like to say "If you ain’t moving forward you’re going backward", and the Lakers took a huge step in going forward as a franchise with D'Antoni's hiring. Many NBA experts always envisioned Steve Nash and Mike D'Antoni winning a championship together, however no one ever thought it would be on the LA Lakers, with Kobe, Gasol, and new comer Dwight Howard to the mix. D'Antoni will never be Phil Jackson, however with the cast around him, if he does his job to the best of his abilities, we could see the closest product to the Showtime Lakers since Pat Riley was on the job.
- Joe Passarelli
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