I’m going to get crucified and called all kinds of names for this article, but hear me out.
Was Mike D’Antoni the right fit for the Lakers’ team last season? Absolutely not.
Would Dwight Howard still be in a Lakers uniform had Lakers’ management chosen Phil Jackson over D’Antoni? It’s very possible.
Did it take D’Antoni too long to adjust his system to fit the personnel he had? Quite possibly.
However, a lot of those factors aren’t completely D’Antoni’s fault.
You can blame management (you’ll all blame Jim Buss, of course, and I usually defend him but I won’t do that today for the purposes of losing all credibility among angry fans and the fact that I’m mad they amnestied Metta World Peace), but what they were thinking (it was reportedly actually Dr. Buss’ decision to choose D’Antoni over Phil) wasn’t completely off base.
The Princeton offense Mike Brown decided to implement at the behest of Kobe Bryant was only working out for Kobe. At the time, he was shooting well above 50 percent, but Steve Nash was looking like Derek Fisher; just bringing the ball up the court to initiate the offense.
While the Triangle and Princeton are different, the Lakers saw a need to allow Steve Nash to be the brilliant player he’s been over the course of his career, and more importantly, the one that was elevated by Mike D’Antoni’s system in Phoenix; and not an intricate system that may limit his point guard abilities.
Obviously, the plan was for Dwight Howard to be the future of the franchise–not Steve Nash–but the year prior the Lakers already had an elite big man in Andrew Bynum, so while Dwight was an upgrade, he wasn’t that much of one compared with the level of play Bynum displayed in his best NBA season to date.
The biggest upgrade for the Lakers coming into the season was an elite point guard in Nash–something the Lakers haven’t seen since the likes of Magic Johnson–the upgrade Lakers fans had clamored for, for years, even though they almost got him in Chris Paul. Steve Nash wasn’t quite that, but he was still Steve Nash.
The Gary Payton experiment didn’t work out too well under the Triangle, so that was surely in the back of management’s minds.
However, when I–and many fans–was made aware that Phil Jackson was a possibility, hiring the coach with 11 rings to his name was an absolute no-brainer.
At the same time, they wanted a coach who would be here for years to come, and Phil couldn’t have guaranteed them that. Nonetheless, when Dwight Howard indicated he wanted Phil, as the supposed future of the franchise, management should have listened.
In the same breath, the horrible season showed Howard’s true colors as not ever really wanting to be a Los Angeles Laker, and exposed his true attitude in his first season. Essentially, Lakers fans may have dodged a huge bullet.
As for D’Antoni, he was hired to implement his run-and-gun style of offense, so it’s not his fault he was paired with a team that’s older and suffered so many significant injuries.
Now onto the present.
Next Page: Why Show Support Now?