Either Mike D’Antoni has taken a page from the Phil Jackson handbook on unconventional means to motivation or he’s already throwing in the towel. That’s about the only way I can interpret D’Antoni’s odd statements made after last night’s listless loss to the Utah Jazz.
D’Antoni sounds like a man already resigned to the fact that he’s not going to be able to provide a solution to what is ailing the most underperforming team in sports.
In fact, D’Anotni made one statement in particular that seemed very odd and perhaps clues us into what is troubling the lackluster Lake Show.
“The only excuse there is that they’re not quite tuned in. It’s not natural, but it will come. I just don’t think we’ve had a ‘gut-checking’ moment yet. At some point, we’re going to draw a line in the sand and that’s it, you have to fight.”
So let me get this straight. D’Antoni is already relegated to saying his team needs a ‘gut-check’ in order to find the motivation to play like champions? Isn’t that a little like saying you’re waiting for your alcoholic step brother to hit rock bottom before offering him help?
I get the point that D’Antoni is making. He’s of the belief that some sense of pride will kick in once everyone in the locker room has had enough. The problem is D’Antoni wasn’t brought aboard to sponsor this team in a 12-step program to finding your professional pride. No, he was made head coach of the Lakers for one reason only – get the championship train back on the tracks.
The sad reality is the Lakers’ biggest problem is their defense. That is one area in which D’Antoni will never be able to help any basketball team. And that is perhaps why D’Antoni is already sounding as if all is lost. He cannot help the Lakers with their defensive woes so instead he’s just hoping for the moment of clarity to come sooner than later and the ship will right itself.
Hopefully I’m way off base on this one. But the early warning signs are alarming and D’Antoni’s mounting frustration only reflects what most of us already knew. This union was doomed from the start and it’s much too late to change directions again. He might not have the answers but D’Antoni had better act like he does. Pawning off these awful losses on the team’s need for a ‘gut-check’ is far too passive for a coach brought in to hang another banner.