With Rudy Tomjanovich fleeing midway through the disastrous 2004-05 season, Buss rehired Phil—after casting about for someone else, like Roy Williams, before bowing to the obvious, knowing their fans would accept no one else.
Phil was a virtual son-in-law and a problem for for the paterfamilias of the Buss family, making visible the Jim-Jeannie rivalry… as when Phil and Jim traded jibes on radio.
Five games into this season, with the firing of Mike Brown, the Lakers—including Jim Buss—were getting ready to rehire Jackson once more.
This time, Jerry Buss said no, at the last moment, with Phil’s Chicago-based agent, Todd Murburger, hours from boarding a plane to Los Angeles to do the deal.
Not that there was any question who their best bet was.
Jackson would have brought calm and reassurance in his inimitable what-me-worry style, no matter what went wrong.
Phil’s Triangle offense worked with multiple bigs.
He was the fans’ choice. If it didn’t work, they would, at least, have felt the Lakes had taken their best shot.
Even knowing all this, D’Antoni didn’t look like a bad choice to me.
I thought they should downsize, starting three guards with Kobe as the small forward, with Dwight and Metta World Peace–which D’Antoni was likeliest to do.
Mike’s early reviews of Gasol were skeptical, to say the least, but he continues to start him… possibly at the suggestion of management, to see what they have before thinking about trading Pau.
Unfortunately, as presently configured, the Lakers don’t control the tempo like a Jackson team.
Nor do they put up 110 a night and let opponents see if they can beat that, like a D’Antoni team.
As far as protecting the lane, shrinking the floor or making teams beat them from outside.
Actually, they’re terrible at all three. A terrible problem for a team that rarely plays anyone who isn’t are younger, faster and more athletic.
Showing the toll this is taking on all concerned, D’Antoni let it all hang out after Friday’s loss to the Wizards, giving us a rant worthy of this messed-up season.
Allen Iverson had “PRACTICE?”
Jim Mora had “PLAYOFFS?”
Now Mike has “CHAMPIONSHIPS?”
“We put our hands in–and you guys have probably seen it–we say ‘championship!’” said D’Antoni.
“God, that’s laughable. Championship? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
On the bright(?) side for the Lakers, nothing means anything until the playoffs—assuming they’re in them.
There’s still time to make it work and go on a roll. At the top of their game, they could upset the Spurs, Thunder, et al.
On the other hand, with the dysfunction built in–trying to play fast with a slow team–it’s not the way to bet.
If there’s a silver lining for the Lakes, things could be much worse—and were, until the All-Star break.
Their Nightmare Scenario involved more than a first-round exit, like Howard leaving… or staying and running off Kobe… or staying but never getting back to Dwight of old.
Howard now looks like he will stay, has progressed physically and spiritually and no longer makes Kobe totally crazy.
As Wavy Gravy said at Woodstock, “There’s always a little heaven in a disaster area.”