The hiring of Kurt Rambis by Mike D’Antoni was seen as a puzzling move to some. After all, Rambis had publicly criticised D’Antoni’s system last season, plus Kurt is extremely close to Phil Jackson. As if the “We want Phil!” chants weren’t enough, D’Antoni would now have one of Phil’s protege’s by his side every night?
During a recent interview with ESPN Los Angeles radio, D’Antoni discussed the reasoning behind Rambis’ hiring, and he also joked about the persistent “We want Phil!” chants:
He’s a good coach. Definitely a fan favorite. The bottom line [is] he knows how to coach and that’s what we’re looking for.
I don’t think anybody needs any reminders [of Phil Jackson] so I don’t look at it that way. The other day when we signed [Jordan] Farmar, somebody was saying, ‘You know, there’s going to be a lot of a chants to play Farmar when he’s sitting on the bench ‘cus he’s a fan favorite,” and I go, ‘Well, that’s a lot better than the chants they’re doing now [We want Phil!].’
You know, Phil casts a big shadow – and he should. He had unbelievable success. Great coach. But, it is what it is. I’m just trying to hire the best guy qualified and Kurt [Rambis] is that. We’ve gotta go forward and we’ve gotta try and make this team as good as we can.
One thing’s for sure: D’Antoni always seems to keep his sense of humor. I guess $4 million a year will do that, though.