Players say time to move forward with D’Antoni
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The craziness comes fast and furious in Lakerland, so on a day when the team named a new coach, but not the coach the players thought was going to be named, and the interim coach said his job continues to be to “just stay out of the way,” the Los Angeles Lakers took another step forward Monday.
Onward and awkward?
“Everybody had expectations, and they were all pretty high,” Lakers veteran forward Pau Gasol said of the feeling that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA titles, would be hired to replace the fired Mike Brown.
“We understand what Phil brings to the table and how successful he’s been and what he means to the city and the franchise. But it couldn’t happen, for whatever reason, so we move forward. That’s what we do as professionals.”
Lakers fans had taken to chanting “We Want Phil” at home games while owner Jerry Buss, his son and team vice president Jim and general manager Mitch Kupchak plotted their next move. When word came that the new coach was not Jackson but Mike D’Antoni, this, even for a franchise with a long tradition of melodrama, qualified as a surprise.
“I know (the fans) wanted Phil to be here, but the management did what they felt was best for the team,” said first-year Lakers center Dwight Howard, who is getting accustomed quickly to how things can change overnight in L.A. “It’s not disappointing. I told the guys, everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason we’ve been through so much so early. I think it’s good for the team to show how strong we are as individuals and as a team.”
Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff oversaw a light workout Monday and will again coach – maybe supervise is a more appropriate term for his hands-off approach – when the Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday.
Adding to the strangeness of Monday at Lakers camp was the issue of D’Antoni not being there, and not expected to be there until Wednesday and the two most obvious Lakers who could put a … [For more on Lakers players say time to move forward with D'Antoni, click here.]