D’Antoni talks Lakers: ‘I’m trying to do my job’
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The smile on Mike D’Antoni’s face Friday morning seemed genuine, which is saying something considering everything the Los Angeles Lakers coach faces at the moment.
As he stood some 50 feet away from that spot inside the team’s practice facility where he was introduced to so much fanfare and frivolity in mid-November, back when Mike Brown had been deemed the problem and D’Antoni the solution, he discussed the topic of his own uncertain future that doesn’t typically spark a smirk. Only he knows is if this is the laugh-so-you-don’t-cry approach to professional sanity, but D’Antoni — whose team entered Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz with a 17-25 record overall and as losers of 10 of their last 12 games — had a peace about him that belied the situation at hand.
There are pundits and fans calling for his head now, rumors swirling about how he may be in trouble and claims that his coaching style is threatening the future of free agent-to-be Dwight Howard in Laker Land. No one seems to care about the other factors involved here, from the egos of every shape and size that are still getting in the Lakers’ way to the evergreen evidence that Kobe Bryant — ageless and tremendous though he may be — is one of the toughest stars to share a locker room with and coach that the game has ever seen. D’Antoni, who came here on a three-year, $12 million contract that he’ll be paid whether or not he’s able to see this job through, is going to grin his way through it and see where this purple-and-gold roller coaster takes him.
“I don’t care (about the increased scrutiny that surrounds him),” D’Antoni told USA TODAY Sports after the morning shoot-a-round. “I’m trying to do my job the best I can do it, and I’m trying to go as hard as I can. If (Lakers general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and management ask me to (step down), then they can do that. That’s their job. That’s not my job.
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