Over the past two years, head coach Mike D’Antoni has basically been public enemy number one in the city of Los Angeles. Although Dr. Jerry Buss had the final say in the hiring of D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, the run-and-gun style of offense taught by D’Antoni hasn’t improved the team’s chances of competing.
In an interview with Ben McGrath of The New Yorker, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti explains how the triangle offense used by Jackson helped minimize injury risk due to the pace at which it was played:
Vitti’s best guess was a kind of chaos theory, that the contemporary game had become too fast, and that the run-and-gun systems espoused by coaches like D’Antoni introduced too many possibilities for things to go wrong.
“They’re constantly on that precipice of being in control, just a thread under being out of control,” he said. “Now, you look back at our triangle offense” -Phil Jackson’s system-“and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it should be played that way or this way, but it’s a very controlled pace.”
With all the injuries the Lakers have had to deal with over the past two seasons after the implementation of D’Antoni’s offense, it seems as though Vitti has a valid point. The pace of the offense simply isn’t sustainable and the end result appears to be countless injuries and a team that has gotten progressively worse as a result.
Obviously, most Lakers fans and former Lakers like Magic Johnson have all lobbied for Jackson’s return. D’Antoni hasn’t been able to turn things around with or without Kobe on the floor and may be fired in the off-season due to that fact.
As of right now, there’s been no clear indication of what Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak intend to do with D’Antoni. The head coach is currently under contract for next season, but that hasn’t stopped the Lakers brass from parting ways prematurely like they did with Mike Brown last season.
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