(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)
BY DAN KENNEDY
ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY
The Los Angeles Lakers made a stunning head coaching hire late Sunday night.
The organization passed on legendary Laker’s coach Phil Jackson, opting instead for Mike D’Antoni.
“Former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni signed a four-year contract last night. His agent confirming the deal to USA Today sports. Many fans expecting the return of former coach Phil Jackson after he met with team officials.”
Jackson stepped down as Lakers’ coach two years ago but his resume is unrivaled in the NBA, having won a record 11 NBA championships
. In LA, he won five titles and reached the finals seven times
. And HLN reports many fans
were eager for his return.
“Several NBA experts said Phil Jackson was far and away the frontrunner to return to coach the Lakers for a third time. But team officials say D’Antoni was their unanimous choice to be quote the best coach for this team at this time.”
Fox Business News
’ Don Imus speculates Jackson’s asking price was too high.
“Apparently Phil Jackson wanted $10 million a year, wanted a final say in everything, and didn’t want to go on the road with the team which includes half their games.”
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times
says the D’Antoni hire is questionable, pointing to his past experience.
He writes, “He’s never taken a team to an NBA Finals. He has a losing record in the playoffs. He doesn’t coach defense. His sprinting offense will be tested by a team led by aging guys who no longer sprint. And, oh yeah, he’s not Phil Jackson.”
The big question -- what does the franchise’s star player Kobe Bryant think?
“It’s still gonna be a very popular hire amongst the Laker players. I was emailing with Kobe Bryant late tonight and he was saying ‘you know, I love PJ but I’m very excited about Mike D’Antoni.”
According to the Washington Post
, Bryant once idolized D’Antoni and the pair was most recently together at the London Olympics when their USA basketball team won the gold medal.
The Lakers signed D’Antoni to a three-year, $12 million deal, with an option for a fourth year.
The Lakers fired Mike Brown last week after losing four of his first five games in his second season as head coach.