Lakers Shocker: Team Names Mike D'Antoni as New Coach

D'Antoni has already signed a multi-year deal with the Lakers, team officials said after speculation that Phil Jackson might return to the team

By Robert Henry and Jonathan Lloyd
|  Monday, Nov 12, 2012  |  Updated 7:42 AM PDT
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D'Antoni Named Lakers' New Coach

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LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29: New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni gestures during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

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The Los Angeles Lakers will hire Mike D'Antoni as their new head coach, and not former coach Phil Jackson, team officials said Sunday.

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It was widely speculated Jackson would be the new coach after team officials confirmed to NBCLA that they met with Jackson Saturday to discuss his possible return. Chants of "We want Phil" could be heard at Staples Center Friday night -- the Lakers' first game after the firing of Mike Brown -- suggesting the coach who led LA to five NBA titles was the fan favorite.

D'Antoni recently interviewed for the vacant head coaching position, as did former Lakers' and Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy.

D'Antoni has also coached the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns, where new Lakers point guard Steve Nash was one of his players. The hiring suggests the Lakers might take on a more up-tempo style, a change from the offense implemented under former coach Mike Brown.

Team officials say D'Antoni has already signed a multi-year contract, and is expected to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday or Wednesday.  He will replace Brown, who was fired last week after the Lakers' 1-4 start.

The Lakers won two games with Bernie Bickstaff as interim head coach, defeating Golden State and Sacramento during the start of a six-game home stand.

Kobe Bryant and Nash both expressed support for hiring D'Antoni, the Lakers said in a statement. Nash won MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 under D'Antoni in Phoenix.

D'Antoni, coached four seasons in New York before stepping down in March, also was a U.S. national team assistant coach. He was part of the gold medal Olympic team in London.  The Knicks made on playoff appearance under D'Antoni, but did not win a post-season game.

He also coached the Denver Nuggets during a lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season.

It's a resume that doesn't compete with that of Jackson -- few do. Jackson won five titles and reached seven NBA finals during his two stints with the Lakers.

The Lakers' next game is Tuesday night against San Antonio at Staples Center. Phoenix visits Staples Center on Friday.

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