Phil Jackson Laughed When Lakers Told him They Hired D’Antoni
It seems like every time I turn around these days, Phil Jackson is revealing some new and interesting tidbit.
According to a story via Arash Markazi of ESPN, Jackson told radio hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, of his reaction upon hearing that the Los Angeles Lakers chose to hire Mike D’Antoni for their vacant head coaching position over him.
“I laughed,” Jackson told ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show Wednesday. “It was humorous to me when Mitch said that we think that Mike is a better coach for this group of guys.”
Jackson received the phone call from Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Sunday, November 11, a day before he was set to reveal whether he would accept the job. The former Lakers head coach said that he feels the organization went with D’Antoni because of history with point guard Steve Nash.
“I think it didn’t happen because there was some concern, How are we going to move in the right direction for this ballclub?” Jackson said. “When Mitch gave me the call close to midnight on Sunday night right before I was going to give them an answer Monday morning and said, ‘We’ve made a choice. We’re going to hire Mike D’Antoni. We think he’s the best coach for this group of guys,’ My answer was, ‘For Steve Nash, yes, I agree, but for Dwight Howard, I’m not so sure.’
“In the process of thinking about how they could best use the team I think they thought first and foremost about Steve Nash and how Steve Nash was going to fit inside of an offensive system that I coach. … I think that was a concern for them.”
The 11-time champion as head coach says that the team wanted to adopt a similar fast-paced style to D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns teams which was an adverse philosophy to what he wanted to implement.
“They wanted to move to a quicker, 3-point-oriented game, which is kind of the rage right now in the NBA,” Jackson said. “I felt like with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard we could emulate a lot of what we did with Andrew Bynum and Pau and pound the ball inside and have an interior game that was strong. But it was their choice, and that’s all right with me.
“It was OK with me if that’s what they wanted to do. In fact, there was a little part of me that felt relief in not having to strap it up and make the decision and get on the road. I think it was only five games into the year, so we still had 77 games left to go in that season.”
If the phone call made Jackson laugh, he must have been rolling on the floor when he saw how awful the team looked under D’Antoni for much of the season. And now it seems like the team is going to have to sink or swim with D’Antoni because Phil has no intention of coaching again.