Nothing about the current Los Angeles Lakers screams “Showtime”: they’re old, slow and injured. None of this, apparently, deters new head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Mr. Pringles arrived in Los Angeles for his first day of work, and ran practice while hobbling around on crutches due to a recent knee replacement surgery. D’Antoni thinks he can bring the run-and-gun style back to Hollywood. D’Antoni says he’ll even reach out to Magic Johnson (who has loudly criticized the hiring) about making this dream come true.
Most important of all, the Lakers’ new bench boss embraces the enormous championship-or-bust expectations that are built into his gig.
From the team website:
Q: On what he thought of this team before he came on: D’Antoni: “A really good team. Just great individual talent. It comes pretty simple: we’re going to have to be a great offensive team and great defensive team. You got Dwight Howard – Defensive Player of the Year. Kobe (Bryant) – definitely on the (NBA All-Defensive) First Team. You got defenders, you got unbelievable offensive geniuses. So we just got to make sure we put everything together, get a good balance, a good flow, have goals and understand that in the game Friday, it’s a step on the road to a championship. We can’t (will) ourselves all the way to June. We got to play the regular season. I know here that sometimes you say: ‘Let’s get this over with.’ But it’s important to lay the foundation. The assembly of players and the experience that is here, is incredible right now.” Q: On when he expects team to pick up offense: D’Antoni: “With Steve Nash, when we got him in Phoenix, it took him an hour and a half. We threw him out there and we couldn’t get off the floor. I expect the same thing. He’ll run the offense like nothing. For the other guys, it’s very simple. He’s a big part of it; we got Steve Blake coming back and he’s a big part of it. (Chris) Duhon knows it already, so that’s cool. We’ll get the other guys up to snuff. But the process should not be long and it should not be tedious at all. The good thing about it is, defensively, we should be a bear. Until we get everything clicking and everything going, we’ll be relying on our defense to win games.”
[…] When Shaq (O’Neal) came to Phoenix, we averaged 115 points with Shaq. I told the team if we’re not averaging 115 points per game, then we need to talk. That’s our goal and it should be easily done. There will be bumps along the way and I’m sure you guys will write: ‘Hey they’re jacking 3’s all the time.’ There will be times like that and we’ll talk about it. There’s just so many weapons we got. If they start feeling good about themselves – and they have to bring the energy – there’s no reason why we don’t offensively go off the charts. If we go off the charts offensively, then defensively, we should be really good. I haven’t had that combo and we have it here.” […] “Everything’s positive; everything’s fun. Let’s go do Showtime; let’s go do it. Let’s get the win in the meantime. But there will be a lot of that.”
Mike D’Antoni is a smart, confident, free-wheeling, self-deprecating coach who believes in giving players ultimate freedom on the court. It’s why he’s so beloved. Laker fans still upset because of what happened with Phil Jackson will eventually come around, especially once this team starts winning.
D’Antoni expects to make his coaching debut this Sunday, marking the return of “Showtime” – some version of it, anyway – to L.A.