January 6, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D
If basketball teams were structured like football teams then Mike D’Antoni would better serve the Lakers as an offensive coordinator instead of being a head coach. No D Antoni has no clue how to inspire his team. He routinely has no explanation for why the Lakers are mired in mediocrity. His frame of reference for success is whatever he accomplished in Europe having done next to nothing in the NBA. Even worse is the team’s chemistry worsens with each passing day.
Like many that have been blinded by the offensive prowess of D’Antoni, Jim Buss completely ignored the most important factor of all when hiring a new coach.
You see these Lakers didn’t need an offensive guru to get them to Titletown. Now they could no doubt use the assistance of defensive specialist. However what this team badly needs from its head coach is leadership.
By all accounts D’Antoni is failing as a leader. He’s alienated guys like Antawn Jamison by burying him at the end of the bench without explanation. He’s ignored the talents of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard forcing both bigs to figure out their role on their own. Even worse is he’s yet to accept any responsibility for the team’s struggles.
At first we were led to believe the return of Steve Nash was the missing element in this catastrophic equation. His return had done nothing to turn the tide.
Next the hope was some time in the coach’s system would unify the squad. With each passing week the Lakers grown further and further apart as a team.
Now what are we waiting for? Next season it would seem.
What the Lakers brass failed to account for was having a coach that would hold the team itself accountable. The Xs and Os are one thing. Having the right system in place is only half the battle. Phil Jackson’s use of the Triangle Offense was not the reason why he has two fists full of rings. It takes a certain type of individual to understand how to inspire and lead.
No D Antoni is not that man.
D’Antoni seems content to sit back in his high chair as if he has nothing to prove. Almost as if it’s the players that must figure out how to make his grand design work. There is something to be said for empowering players. PJ was known for doing that often during games. However that approach is not possible without the proper foundation.
To be fair D’Antoni didn’t have a full offseason to build his foundation. But he’s had two months now to at least light a fire underneath a struggling hoops team. The Lakers routinely look flat on the court, resigned to their failures without a fix in sight.
That falls on the shoulders of the coaches. If they can’t inspire then who will?
More to the point there is no progress being made. It’s either time for D’Antoni to try a new approach or for the Lakers to reconsider the hire all together. Of course we pretty much know how this will go. D’Antoni will remain on scholarship while the most disappointing team in NBA history spirals down the drain.
In reality the lack of leadership in the Lakers’ front office is where all these problems start. So in a sense it’s only fitting they hired a head coach in their image.