Now that some of the shock has worn off from the news that the Lakers chose Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, it can strongly be argued that the team made the better choice.
What was the most glaring problem with the Lakers to start the season? their offense. It was downright ugly at times, a turnover-machine. The Princeton offense was like watching four All-Stars pull teeth all night, and it felt like it to. Having Phil Jackson take over with his famous triangle offense would have brought a similar, drawn out learning curve. Half of the roster, including Howard and Nash, would have had to learn the offense from the ground up. Mike D’Antoni’s offense, conversely, may just be the easiest one to pick up. You and your mother could run it well after just 10 minutes of practice time. The principles are basic…shoot the rock if you’re open, move it if you’re not, and keep the lane clear…..it’s a glorified pick-up game. The Laker offense will improve dramatically and it’ll happen very quickly. That’s what the masses at Staples Center really want…something to cheer about. They’ll be chanting Mike’s name soon enough.
There’s also the long-term perspective of the D’Antoni hire. Phil, while possessing an unparalleled resume, would’ve been a short-term hire. The goal would’ve been to get one more ring with Kobe and then go back to doing Jeanie’s laundry. Mike has a three-year contract (with an option for a fourth), and he probably hopes to be there even longer. His gameplan is ideal for the eventual youth movement coming in L.A…..Kobe isn’t going to play forever.
The Lakers didn’t pass on hiring Phil Jackson, they passed on re-hiring him….there’s a big difference. The franchise cut ties with Phil in 2011, to the point where Chuck Person was the only coaching holdover (hardly a Jackson disciple, himself). Bringing back Jackson to ”save the team” (again) would’ve been like hooking up with an ‘ex’ that you still had feelings for…it’s unhealthy. Jackson isn’t going to coach forever and there were no guarantees that it would’ve ended in another championship, anyways. Rick Carlisle out-coached PJ in 2011 and he knows it. It’s time the Lakers close that chapter once and for all. Phil may have been “stunned” Sunday night, but he’ll get over it.
Does defense win championships? yes. Does Mike D’Antoni coach defense? not really. But the defensive-minded Nate McMillan is also reportedly on his way to L.A. to serve as assistant coach.
In the words of Metta World Peace, “the defense (with himself and Dwight) will be self-explanatory.”