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D’Antoni hire wasn’t smooth
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On November 12, 2012 @ 11:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — The saga surrounding the surprising hiring of Mike D’Antoni, and not Phil Jackson, to be the Los Angeles Lakers’ next coach continues to unravel.
The story will remain front and center for now, in part, because D’Antoni isn’t even here yet. A recent knee replacement surgery is making travel difficult for D’Antoni, and team officials said he was trying to make the trip from his home in the New York area to Los Angeles by Wednesday in time to possibly coach against his old Phoenix Suns team Friday night.
Adding to the strangeness of Monday at Lakers camp in addition to D’Antoni not being there, the two most obvious Lakers who could put a positive spin on his hiring — Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash — had departed the Lakers training facility before news reporters were allowed in.
Nash won two MVP awards playing in D’Antoni’s system with the Suns and said in recent days that a reunion with his old coach would be fine by him.
Bryant chose No. 8 for his original Lakers jersey number because, when he was a kid growing up in Italy, where his father played in the pro league, his basketball hero was a crafty point guard named Mike D’Antoni, who wore No. 8 for one of the Italian league teams.
That left forward Pau Gasol, who never played on a team coached by D’Antoni, as the most veteran Laker available.
“Everybody had expectations, and they were all pretty high,” Gasol said at Monday’s practice of the feeling that Jackson was on his way back. “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.”
This all began when the team fired second-year coach Mike Brown on Friday, just five games into the season. Expectations were sky high after a whirlwind offseason that saw the superstar acquisitions of Nash and center Dwight Howard, Brown sealed his fate with a 1-4 start. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who’ll coach the … [For more on Mike D'Antoni hire wasn't smooth, but Lakers found fill-in for Phil Jackson, click here.]
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