Well hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is non-existent. And when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers, current sight is blurry. Slumping at 10-14 on the season and having gone through three head coaches, it doesn’t seem that the Lakers know which way is up. The only constant so far has been Kobe Bryant yelling at his team to get off their backsides and work harder.
What’s more is that I am hearing fans calling for the firing of Mike D’Antoni already. Granted, the Lakers did set precedent by firing their original head coach within the first five games. It’s natural that the fans want to think they could bully Jerry Buss into firing D’Antoni too. After all, they’ve already given him triple the chance they gave Brown this season.
But then what? Beg and plead with the Godfather himself, Phil Jackson, to come back after all? News flash: Vito Corleone doesn’t negotiate. The day his daughter was to be married has come and gone. He made the offer – and you were the one foolish enough to refuse.
Just like Corleone, Phil is a figurehead. He would have been the superficial answer to the Lakers very complex and in-depth issues. Sure he would have fit right in to the flashy starting lineup. He would have looked good in promotional posters standing in front of his five high-profile lackeys. But while it would have looked like Showtime, it wouldn’t have been. He may have been the one fans wanted, but he wasn’t the one they needed.
I’m not saying that D’Antoni is a better coach than Phil Jackson. I don’t really think anyone is a better coach than Phil Jackson. But do I think the Lakers would have been any better off at this point in the season under Phil Jackson? No. I don’t. And here’s why:
- The Lakers would have still had to adjust to an entirely different offensive scheme than they were running under Brown. Do you really think they could have picked up the triangle offense any quicker than they are adjusting to D’Antoni’s system? Sure Pau Gasol and Kobe are experienced already in the triple-post but Gasol isn’t the power forward he used to be with his presently ailing knees. A case could be made I suppose for Dwight Howard being as good if not better than Shaq was when the Lakers took those titles in 2000-2002. But for what it’s worth- it still took a year to get that first title.
- The offer on the table was a one year contract coupled with an outrageous eight figure asking price. With no training camp to build off of and a completely fresh set of guys to work with there’s no way Jackson would have had the team in better shape come December. Like I said before, it took a year with a young Kobe and a prime Shaq. Then, when Jackson took over for the second time in 2005 it wasn’t until 2009 the Lakers won a championship. So I ask you, honestly, what would a year have done?
- The Lakers main issue right now is defense. They looked dumbfounded against the Cleveland Cavaliers- staring at each other as Kyrie Irving straight up embarrassed them, driving the lane multiple times like he hadn’t missed a beat. I mean that kid is special. But Andersan Varejao isn’t. Alonzo Gee isn’t. Yet they were able to put up 20 and 17 points, respectively. Would this have happened under Jackson? It might have. Just ask Kobe, who’s been quoted saying,
“I mean Phil’s been here, and — to be honest with you — we might have, in all the years I’ve been with Phil, (had) maybe three defensive drills the entire time. And I’m not understating it at all.”
Phil relied on his players to figure it out. A tactic D’Antoni is currently employing. A tactic that isn’t working, but that wouldn’t have varied between the two coaches.
- Another drawback had we chosen Jackson? Road games. Lakers are only 3-7 on the road and that’s with a coach. Jackson reportedly wasn’t going to travel. I shudder to think what would be happening if they didn’t have a coach at all away from Staples Center. Yes, Kobe has always been a coach-like influence on the team, but this year it doesn’t seem to be enough. He hasn’t been able to procure any sort of consistent effort from his team. If anything, having a head coach like Jackson would likely have rendered the Black Mamba even more ineffective. You think Kobe has completely forgotten about what Phil wrote about him? Not in the slightest. Kobe will do whatever it takes to win, even if that means working with Coach Jackson again. But you better believe they would have been butting heads in a blown-out-of-proportion power struggle right now.
Listen, Mike D’Antoni is what we got. It is nowhere near realistic to expect he is going anywhere this season, or next for that matter. We need to support this man instead of calling for his firing.
I realize Lakers’ fans are a bit spoiled in their success but I challenge you to think of a coach who won a championship his first year sans training camp with a brand new team. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.