With Los Angeles readying to host the Phoenix Suns tonight at the Staples Center, Earvin “Magic” Johnson remains critical of Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss for choosing offensive wizard Mike D’Antoni over Hall of Famer Phil Jackson as the organization’s next head coach.
“I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don’t believe in Jim Buss,” said Johnson, 53, who won five championships and three MVP awards in 13 professional seasons as a Laker. “He’s made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes. First, hiring Mike Brown — he wasn’t the right coach. He’s a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don’t feel Mike D’Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers.”
On Monday, the 61-year-old D’Antoni, who was last employed by the New York Knicks in March and earned the NBA Coach of the Year award with the Suns in 2005, inked a three-year deal worth $12 million to lead the Lakers.
According to numerous reports, the 67-year-old Jackson, the all-time winningest coach in league history with 11 crowns, was bypassed due to the intricacies of his famed triangle offense, outrageous contract demands and desire to periodically skip road games.
Meanwhile, D’Antoni, who has compiled a coaching record of 388-339 since debuting with the Denver Nuggets in 1998, runs an extremely simple and fast-paced offense that is exciting for players and fans alike.
Somewhat concerning for D’Antoni and Los Angeles, the native of West Virginia is also notorious for overseeing horrid defensive squads.
Fortunately for the Lakers, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kobe Bryant, four-time NBA All-Defensive First Teamer Dwight Howard and batshit crazy 2004 Defensive Player of the Year Metta World Peace should more than compensate for D’Antoni’s shortcomings.
The Lakers, who have the league’s largest payroll at just more than $100 million, are an extremely talented collection of geriatrics designed to capture the franchise’s 18th Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy this June.
Iconic point guard Steve Nash, four-time All-Star Pau Gasol, two-time All-Star power forward Antawn Jamison and superstars Bryant and Howard will eventually gel under the watchful eye of D’Antoni and prevent the Miami Heat from going back-to-back in the spring.
In stark contrast to the thoughts of Magic Johnson, there is no question that “Mike D’Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers.”by