The mounting frustration over the Lakers’ poor start to the season culminated with new head coach Mike D’Antoni snapping at a media member following the team’s 100-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, who has been an irritant to most LA sports figures for the past two decades, was grilling D’Antoni over the team’s lack of defense when he got a rise out of the coach.
Apparently Simers was questioning whether the Lakers had practiced defense on Tuesday before their game.
“You’re criticized for (unintelligible) defense. You come here, you go to shootaround this morning, you do a film session, and a little old shooting on everyone’s own …” Simers was saying before D’Antoni interrupted him.
“I didn’t see you at the film session,” D’Antoni interjected.
“So that’s not true then?” Simers asked.
“No, that’s not true,” D’Antoni answered.
“So you worked on defense then?” Simers pressed.
“Hell yeah. We worked for a half-hour. You’re starting to piss me off. You’re starting to piss me off,” he repeated. “Because you said something that’s not factually correct.”
D’Antoni apparently went on to defend how much the team works on defense before Time Warner Cable’s feed of the postgame news conference cut away.
The Lakers have lost three games in a row and five of their last six. They’re now 9-13 on the season — including a 4-8 record for D’Antoni — and the struggles are wearing on everyone.
Kobe Bryant admitted after the game that this has been the toughest time of his career.
“I’ve been through tough situations before in the past, and I’d always blow my top and go crazy,” Bryant said. “Then I had a head coach who always kept calm and focused on the Xs and Os of things, and I learned from that. I’m trying to do the same thing here, but I’m not going to lie, I’m really trying my patience with that Zen thing.”
The Lakers were awful in the preseason (they failed to win a game), and they have been below average during the regular season. Patient people have preached that we should wait until Steve Nash returns from his leg injury before judging the team, but there is only so much he can fix. This team is in trouble, and it seems like they know it.
As much of a pain in the rear Simers is, he is not afraid to ask the questions many are thinking. In a way, he’s good to have around for checks and balances.
And D’Antoni shouldn’t be too upset with himself over this blowup; Simers has even managed to get the best of Phil Jackson in the past. Remember this 2009 incident?
H/T The Big Lead
Photo Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports