Mike D’Antoni was shocked the Lakers gave him coaching job over Phil Jackson
When word surfaced over the weekend that the Los Angeles Lakers were considering both Mike D’Antoni and Phil Jackson for their head-coaching vacancy after they fired Mike Brown, few of us believed D’Antoni had a legitimate shot. If Jackson wanted to return, it would be silly to think the Lakers would not love to have him. Apparently D’Antoni thought so as well.
On Monday, D’Antoni was asked if he thought the Zen Master was a lock to return when news surfaced that he was interested.
“Sure I did,” he said according to the NY Daily News. “For sure I did. Didn’t everybody? When I got the call that it was me, my first reaction was, ‘Are you serious?’”
Jackson has built his Hall-of-Fame career around being able to handle superstars and massive egos. In New York, trying to juggle a roster that included Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire became too much for D’Antoni, so he walked away. He never imagined he would get the opportunity to return to a situation that was loaded with such talent as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
“Sometimes you have to be lucky,” D’Antoni said. “Lucky or even blessed. I look back over my career, just what I’ve been able to do so far, and feel like nobody has been more blessed than I’ve been. Now this happens and I look at myself and I really do say, ‘Are you kidding me? I get to come back and coach these guys?’”
After hearing Jackson’s side of the story (which you can read here), L.A.’s decision to hire D’Antoni instead of bringing back the 11-time NBA champion is even more puzzling. As we mentioned earlier, it’s possible Jackson was trying to take advantage of a desperate situation with a lofty list of demands. D’Antoni would make more sense over the long term if he can handle the job. Once he gets over the shock of being chosen over one of the greatest coaches of all time, we’re going to see whether or not that will be the case.