There is no job in the NBA more stressful and more demanding than being the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Mike Brown, who was fired five games into this season, can probably attest to that. The fans in L.A. want championships, parades and everything in between. Making the postseason. Getting to the second round. That sort of stuff may work for other franchises, however, in Los Angeles it is the equivalent of a lost season.
Mike D’Antoni knows this. When the Lakers hired him this week, they did so with a very clear message: win or you will be kicked to the curb just like your predecessor. For his part, D’Antoni acknowledges that he heard the message loud and clear.
"I'm going to do everything I can do to win a championship," D'Antoni said Tuesday afternoon on the "Mason and Ireland" show on ESPNLA 710. "If we're not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I've failed as a head coach. I'm comfortable with that."
As he should be. Because that’s the standard. Heck, it would have been the standard even if the Lakers hadn’t acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this summer. With those guys? There are definitely no excuses.
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While on with “Mason and Ireland” D’Antoni also acknowledged that he was surprised (like everyone else) that he got the Lakers head coaching job over Phil Jackson.
"I was surprised in the sense that it seemed like a natural fit," D'Antoni said." "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."
D’Antoni also weighed in on how he envisioned this squad playing. It’s no secret that management had been less than enthralled with Mike Brown’s boring, uninspiring brand of offense. They wanted something a bit flashier. A bit more D’Antoni-esque
"This is a completely different team," D'Antoni said, comparing this Lakers squad to his old Phoenix Suns unit. "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. That was the best probably it's ever been done, but that's kind of how we will evolve things.
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"But I think we can run whatever system in that we know the principles we want to run and we'll tweak it to be efficient."
Stay tuned, folks – this is going to be an interesting season.