D’Antoni: Lakers should be in hunt for title
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Mike D’Antoni has not arrived in Los Angeles. But it’s not too soon for a first impression.
The new Los Angeles Lakers coach, expected to join the team Wednesday and possibly coach his first game Friday, was inteviewed on ESPNLA 710 radio Tuesday. And he held nothing back about his intentions for the team.
“I’m going to do everything I can do to win a championship,” D’Antoni said, via ESPN Los Angeles. “If we’re not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I’ve failed as a head coach.”
The Lakers hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who replaced fired Mike Brown on Friday, was coaching his third and perhaps final game.
Lakers guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, who have spent time around D’Antoni in the past, praised his system and his coaching Tuesday. And D’Antoni showed he understands the challenges ahead.
Highlights from the interview, via ESPN Los Angeles:
On the Lakers hiring him instead of Phil Jackson: “I was surprised in the sense that it seemed like a natural fit. But you never know what happens, so I’m not here to judge one way or the other. I know he’s a great coach. Has been, will be, one of the best if not the best ever.”
On his uptempo offense with the Phoenix Suns: “This is a completely different team. This team will be more skilled, bigger, a little older, much more experienced and our object will be to find the best shot within the 24-second period. We’ll push the tempo a little bit. I think the model will be something like ‘Showtime.’ But that’s hard to reach.”
On his time with the New York Knicks: “It was an experience. I’ve got the wounds to show it. But I’m a big boy. I can handle it. We did have prior circumstances, no practices, people playing tired or hurt, a brand new team coming together and they want you to win a championship. … Then you throw on top of that Linsanity and having that as, not a distraction but a great thing, but having to … [For more on Mike D'Antoni speaks: 'Everything I can do to win a championship', click here.]