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

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Scottie Pippen: LeBron still hasn’t surpassed Jordan, Kobe

Report: Sherman holds resentment toward Wilson, Carroll

Osweiler: Film from last two years proves I should be starter

Daughter of Bucks owner burns Bill Simmons on Twitter

Tiger Woods tells golf world to try and kick this football he’s holding

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tyronn Lue: Gameplanning to defend Celtics harder than Warriors

How the Senators can upset the Penguins in Game 7

Report: Paxton Lynch cutting out early while other QBs stay late

Michael Jordan unique 1984 Converse shoes could fetch up to $100K at auction

Joe Girardi has interesting reason why no medical scans for Masahiro Tanaka

Ezekiel Elliott’s mom fires back after son criticized for being in car accident

Box Score 5/25: The Cavaliers look to close out the Celtics

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

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

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

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