Magic Johnson came out this week and publicly blasted Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers’ management (see video at the bottom of post). P.S. I love you Magic! Of course since then he has apologized and promised to stop criticizing. Don’t worry readers, I intend to do no such thing.
I completely agree with Magic’s original statement. The Lakers made a huge mistake hiring Mr. No Defense and should have gone with the Zen Master. Well, unless Magic can live up to his name and go back in time, we can no longer look back, instead we must think about the future. The next two summers are going to be critical for the Lakers. I have already stressed my opinion that we should get a good draft pick this summer and make sure to leave enough cap space to go after Kevin Love in 2015. However, Magic brought up a critical part in recruiting free agents: the coach.
We passed up a coach with 11 rings for a guy who has never even made it to the finals. D’Antoni’s believes good defense is just having a better offense. The reason Jimbo hired Mike is because he wanted to bring back Showtime. However, Mike didn’t create Showtime, Pat Riley did. I am so amused that people around the league credit Mike D’Antoni for the Miami Heats’ style of play. Analysts say that he increased the pace of the game. I am sorry, but that is bull. Pat Riley coached the Heat and then put his protege in that position in order to become the GM. Pat Riley changed the league, not Mike D’Antoni.
The reason why the Heat are so good is because they are a force on both ends of the court. People say that the Heat took Mike’s offense and added defense. That just aggravates me. Everyone knows that the key to any championship team is a stellar defense. That is why the Dallas Mavericks shocked us all a few years ago. They were nothing special, but Tyson Chandler was a defensive force.
Magic complained about our lack of defense, and he is right, although Mike says he is fine with our defense (more aggravation). So besides needing a coach that understands one of the most basic fundamentals of basketball, we also need one that fits our personnel.
Dwight Howard left for two reasons: Mike D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant. Now I am fine with him leaving because of Kobe. Mamba has 5 rings and will retire with the Lakers. However, I am not OK with losing players because of a coach with no rings. Lakers fans have not warmed to Mike, and a lot of players do not even like him. Even Pau came out against him this year.
There is a lot of talk that we are going to go after Carmelo Anthony. I personally do not think we should. I think Melo is overrated and is one-dimensional. When he decides to add something besides scoring to his repertoire then I will reconsider. I also think that he is a New Yorker and I know how New Yorkers feel about LA. My mother still blames my father for “tricking” her into moving to LA more than 30 years ago.
However, I will play devils advocate. Lets say that Melo is interested in coming to LA. Does he really want to play for D’Antoni? They tried that in NY and that failed (miserably I might add). I actually think my family in New York dislikes Mike more than me.
Beyond the defensive deficiencies and the lack of player loyalty, I also think a huge part of the Lakers injury problem rests on Mike’s shoulders. I am not going to blame every injury on Mike. There are many reasons for the injuries: these guys are older, some had previous health issues, there is always wear and tear, and of course luck. However, we have had two uncharacteristically injury filled seasons in a row. So I have to ask myself why are we having such bad luck? Well I do not think it is all luck or the other reasons I just answered. I think a huge part of the injuries is the fast paced offense.
Last year D’Antoni wanted us to score 120 points per game. For my non math readers, that averages to 30 points per quarter. He wanted us to run and gun. Keep in mind, last year our big 3 were made up of two guards in there late 30s and a center coming off of major back surgery. Seriously, how could making them run up and down floor like healthy 20 year olds seem like anything other than a fantastic idea?
To his credit, D’Antoni did adjust this year and say he would slow it down a bit. He still wanted us to run, but he wasn’t expected 120 points. We are a slightly younger team, but that kind of offense does take a toll. I will repeat, I do not blame him for all the injuries this year. I understand that injuries happen in the NBA. However, I do believe the offense played a role in a lot of them.
In conclusion, it is time to dump D’Antoni. Wait until the season is over and hope to God that Jeanie can work her magic and convince Phil to come back. Maybe since he finally decided to marry into the Buss family he will be a little more lenient in negotiations. Otherwise I will be happy to put together a post of all potential candidates. Because if we don’t bring in a coach that maintains the championship culture, the Buss kids will have truly disgraced their fathers memory.