Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/12/12
Mike D’Antoni used to look like he was having so much fun. When his teams in Phoenix were operating at a frenetic pace offensively and playing better than advertised defensively, the coach often seemed to have a bemused smile on his face, even after most losses. The man could coach, everyone knew it, and everyone seemed to appreciate it. Then D’Antoni went to New York and the fun disappeared. The pressure to win with the Knicks, who had not done a whole lot of winning in the decade prior to his arrival, wore on D’Antoni. And now he is walking into an even more pressure-filled situation in Los Angeles as the head coach of the legendary Lakers, where style will trump substance even more than it did in New York. Phil Jackson would have had no trouble dealing with that pressure, if there would have been any pressure at all for the coach of 11 championship teams. Jackson would have had the immediate support of the players and the fans, as well as the tacit approval of the media, and the uproar on Monday after the Lakers hired D’Antoni therefore was predictable. If everyone would just settle down for a minute, though, they might realize that D’Antoni actually makes a lot of sense for these Lakers. The first fallacy we can reject is that Jackson’s triangle offense would have been unquestionably better for the current Lakers personnel than D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less.” The chief promoters of this argument would not know the triangle from Shaquille O’Neal‘s “RAH!” defense, anyway, and are merely going off the assumption that because Jackson won a bunch of rings with something called the triangle, his offense must be better. Good coaches — which both Jackson and D’Antoni are — do not have one offensive option that pigeonholes players into unalterable roles. That flexibility is how Jackson and assistant coach Tex Winter were able to adjust the triangle from one that de-emphasized the center position in Chicago to one that hyper-emphasized O’Neal in L.A. It is how D’Antoni was able to be successful with Steve Nash, Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin, three very distinct players in terms of strengths, weaknesses and skill levels, operating at point guard. Jackson would have tweaked the triangle to make Nash into more than an outside set shooter, as Derek Fisher, Steve Kerr and other point guards were in earlier iterations of the triangle. Likewise, D’Antoni will figure out a way for Kobe Bryant to be more than a 3-point outlet off of the pick and roll. The other myth involves the defensive acumen of D’Antoni-coached teams. For a while last season, it was maddening to listen to so-called experts critique the Knicks under D’Antoni and go back to that time-tested cliché that one of the greatest offensive minds in the modern game was clueless at coaching defense. Eventually, the maddening gave way to a simple deadening of the senses, because no matter how greatly the facts pointed to the contrary, reputations were established and opinions were set. The Knicks’ biggest problem under D’Antoni was not their defense, which played at a playoff-caliber level with Tyson Chandler and Mike Woodson coordinating on the court and from the bench, respectively. Their issue was Carmelo Anthony‘s penchant for hijacking the offense at the worst times. Anthony actually assisted a greater percentage of his teammates’ field goals than ever before, but just when the Knicks needed a smart swing pass to a shooter in the corner, Anthony would play hero ball against a double team. As long as D’Antoni finds a competent assistant to oversee the defense — and honestly, he should, given the many ways to deploy Dwight Howard on that end, and that a job with the Lakers still carries cache — the Lakers should be as good defensively under D’Antoni as they would have been under Jackson. The rub, of course, is that the Lakers have defensive liabilities in Bryant, Nash and Metta World Peace no matter who is coaching. That is why Mike Brown, a well-regarded defensive gameplanner, was never able to get the Lakers to defend in his season-plus on the bench. The hubbub over Jackson is understandable. No coach has won more titles, and when combined with the 1973 championship he won as a player with the Knicks, only Bill Russell and K.C. Jones have as many NBA championship rings combined as a player and coach. Had the Lakers hired Jackson, all the arguing over whether the coach was a hindrance on a star-studded roster would have ceased. As it is with D’Antoni, that controversy will only continue until the Lakers finally win it all. But spare us the indignation over the D’Antoni hiring. It may not have been the most popular move, but it was hardly a crime against the sport of basketball. The Lakers should be just fine with D’Antoni on the bench, and if they fail to win the title this season, it is unlikely that D’Antoni will be solely to blame. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here. Thumbnail photo via Facebook/LA Lakers
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mike Krzyzewski provides an update on his health

Sacramento Kings seriously considering firing George Karl

Rick Pitino says school should be penalized, 'but not this team'

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban defends hack-a-player strategy

Jameis Winston awarded Pepsi NFL rookie of the Year

Trade Rumors: Clippers ‘reluctant’ to deal injured Blake Griffin

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

$40,000 in Super Bowl tickets stolen from San Francisco hotel

Rams fan makes Super Bowl commercial ripping Stan Kroenke

Panthers LB wants 'clown' Rodney Harrison off the air

Jason Reid: Tom Brady will play at least three more years

Kirk Cousins says he has ‘very good relationship’ with RG3

Super Bowl 50 ticket prices are insane

Take a moment to appreciate the greatness of Cam Newton

4-Star 2018 quarterback Matt Corral commits to USC

QUIZ: Name every NFL regular season MVP

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker