Though they are improved, the Los Angeles Lakers have been in the midst of the worst stretch in franchise history. In the eyes of many, that slide started with the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni as the head coach instead of Phil Jackson.
Though he did lead the Lakers to a playoff appearance when he joined in the middle of the 2012 season, the extreme workload placed on Kobe Bryant likely contributed to his torn Achilles at the end of the year.
In his lone full season with the Lakers, D’Antoni led the team to just 27 wins and the two sides agreed to part ways the following offseason. Over the past couple of years D’Antoni has had something of a career resurgence and lead the Houston Rockets to the best record in the NBA this season.
His time with the Lakers is still something of a dark mark and in a recent piece by Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, D’Antoni admitted to not coaching much with the Lakers:
D’Antoni created “teaching tapes” with footage from his time with the Suns and the Knicks (“I didn’t do much coaching after that,” he says of his two-year stint with the Lakers), illustrating the importance of quick outlets, choreographed breaks and sledgehammer screens.
The D’Antoni system is one that is well known by now as it puts an emphasis on fast pace, 3-pointers, and layups while admonishing mid-range jumpers. D’Antoni may have wanted to focus on that, but coaching is much more than Xs and Os.
The best coaches in the league such as Gregg Popovich and Brad Stevens combine a great knowledge of schemes and plays with great player management and empowerment skills. At least in his time in Los Angeles it seems as if D’Antoni is admitting he didn’t put much emphasis on the latter.
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