Dec 8, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

D’Antoni Still Doesn’t Get Lakers’ Way by Defending Modest Start

Oct 18, 2013; Shanghai, China; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D

Following Sunday night’s game, reporters asked Kobe Bryant if his game would affect the chemistry of the team and possibly set back the team’s progression after experiencing some early success, he responded as you would expect a player that had amassed a large collection of diamond encrusted hardware in his career and always set the bar at no less than winning an NBA championship.


“The chemistry will be fine,” Bryant said. “It’s not like they haven’t watched me play for 17 years. It’s not rocket science. It’s not like we were gangbusters before.”

That last line, “It’s not like we were gangbusters before.” Is what triggered a response from Mike D’Antoni when informed of Kobe’s post game comments.


“I have to disagree with that,” D’Antoni said. “We were 6-2 in the last eight and I thought we played extremely well, winning three on the road. … So, that’s not quite right. I’m really proud of what the guys did.”


Kobe saying that the team prior to his arrival was not playing like gangbusters was completely accurate. The definition of the word gangbusters is something that is in an outstandingly successful state or situation.


What is outstanding about a 10 and 9 record?


Since when has a Lakers team being positioned outside of the playoff picture and on a path towards a lottery pick considered a success?


While it was a pleasant surprise seeing a lot of the young players that were cast offs and playing on 1 year contracts come together to exceed expectations, the state of a Los Angeles Lakers team being ordinary, in Kobe’s eyes, was deplorable, and as such, responded accordingly when asked about the absurdity of disrupting a team that was performing unexceptionally.


Nov 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D

In D’Antoni defending the 10-9 start by disagreeing with Kobe’s gangbuster comment, he at the same time was defending being average.


He defended being average while occupying the position of head coach for a franchise that has won 16 NBA championships in its 66 years of existence; 10 of those NBA championships being won in just the last 25 years and the last one being acquired just 3 short years ago.


Surely he’s aware that more than average results are expected of him?


He felt a modest start to the season was okay for a team that just paid their star player 48.5 million dollars for the next 2 years. If all the Lakers’ brass wanted was being average they could have gotten that at a significantly lower price.


D’Antoni pointed to the team’s 6-2 record in the previous 8 games to Kobe’ s return as something that should be applauded. Not impressive when you see that those 6 wins came against 3 teams that combined for a.371 winning percentage and another team that was missing their 2 All Star Starters (Golden State Warriors.)


That is what D’Antoini hangs his hat on, a 6-2 record against the cellar dwellers of the league.


Three straight road wins against Brooklyn, Detroit and Sacramento is what D’Antoni commends.


I wonder if the 9 Hall of Famers whose jerseys hang from the rafters and have 22 championships as Lakers would agree with D’Antoni that average should be celebrated. Maybe D’Antoni would like to carve out some space by those jerseys to honor the most ordinary as well.


What D’Antoni is yet to learn is that you don’t get praise from championship achieving franchises and players like Kobe for moral victories, or exceeding incredibly low expectations, or for amassing a measly .500 record.  You only get praise here for feverishly pursuing or winning championships.


If D’Antoni wants to hang up 12th place ribbons and participation awards on his wall, that’s great, but he won’t being that for the Lakers for long. When the Lakers brass selected D’Antoni as the head coach of the Lakers team over 11 time champion head coach Phil Jackson, they did so with the expectation that he was the coach best suited to lead Kobe, Pau and Nash to another championship run. They didn’t bring him along to do decent with a cast of misfits.


With Kobe Bryant back, D’Antoni’s 19 game vacation from the pressures of winning is now over. Average will no longer do the rest of the way.


The Lakers brass going all in on a 35 year old Kobe Bryant who is coming off an Achilles injury is a risky move that could set the Lakers rebuilding phase back for years.


They are aware that Kobe might not return to the Kobe of old and be able to carry this team to another championship in these next 2 years; but they also understand that Kobe gives them the best chance of doing that and no matter how slim those possibilities are, that alone is worth the pursuit.


Kobe and the Lakers might fall flat on their face in their attempt.


It might be an ugly, unmitigated disaster.


But that fall from their failed pursuit wouldn’t be a fraction of the embarrassment as reveling in the ordinary as D’Antoni displayed.


Average, ordinary, run of the mill, having a seat at the lottery presentation is not becoming of the Lakers.


Not in L.A. Not wearing purple and gold. Not under the leadership from the progeny of the great Dr. Jerry Buss.


Most importantly, not on Kobe’s watch.


You can reach me at the my Twitter handle, @fullcourtfern, to discuss this article, anything Lakers or NBA related, or if you want to invite me to go grab a beer somewhere in L.A. You’re paying of course.

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Tags: Gangbusters Kobe Bryant Mike D'Atoni

  • Daryl Peek

    MDA totally gets it. He’s standing up for the troops that held it down while Kobe was out. Kobe didn’t need to go there that’s all!

    • Fern Rea

      They were an ordinary 10-9 and their 6-2 stretch were wins
      against garbage teams. That is nothing to defend or commend.

      Maybe in Milwaukee or Atlanta it’s a job well done, but
      here, when your star player that has won 5 rings and he and the franchise are
      in pursuit of nothing less than reaching championship level , you keep your
      mouth shut and not respond to your star via the media.

      D’Antoni doesn’t understand that. He thinks he is riding
      high right now with that 10-9 record which was exceeding expectations. Lakers management
      and Kobe are not impressed. Lakers fanbase is not satisfied.

      That is something that D’Antoni can do well: take low
      expectations, a bunch of 2nd and 3rd tier players with a special
      skill set that match the only way he knows how to coach and make nothing into adequate.

      That is nice but not newsworthy here.

      Anyway, his little stress free sabbatical is over. Average doesn’t
      cut going forward.

      • Daryl Peek

        Per good Lakers team standard you’re absolutely right but when was the last time this was a really good Lakers championship talented team? Again, there was absolutely no reason for Kobe to go there, and he absolutely dissed his new young teammates!

        10-9 was better than what Kobe mustered at this time last season with more talent. This is the core of hypocrisy in his unnecessary statement.

        • Fern Rea

          Kobe’s intent was not to discredit what the young guys did. He took offense, rightfully so, by the reporters notion that he/Kobe would disrupt the teams play as if the current state of the Lakers was something that couldnt be disrupted and responded appropriately.

          The Lakers team was barely above 500 and on pace to pick 12th in the lottery, yet he had to field questions about messing that up?

          That is why I say the term “gangbusters” was appropriate. he didnt say they were playing horribly, just that they werent playing great; therefore, no need to worry about disrupting something that wasnt great as the reporters were making it seem.

          The one that didnt need to respond was D’Antoni.

          • Daryl Peek

            Kobe is smart enough and knows how bad this could look. I can’t see any reason to be so arrogant you allow yourself to get baited like that. That’s all.

    • Eddie Robinson

      Kobe’s wasn’t trying to dismiss what the team had done prior
      to him arriving there

      His response was to the questions he was being asked about
      him possibly disrupting what the Lakers were doing at that time. That idea was absurd to him because what
      exactly was he disrupting that warranted any type of concern? That is what
      prompted his gangbusters response.

      Reporters were acting as if he was returning to a team filled
      all stars and a 17-2 record.

      • Daryl Peek

        First off I fully support Kobe’s return because I’m not foolish in thinking the team doesn’t need him. That said, his reintegration did disrupt what was being built, key phrase “being built”.

        This was expected as MDA said. It’s something the team has to endure for the better of the big picture. Kobe and everyone knew this therefore it was not necessary for him to go there…