After conducting his first practice with the Lakers, Mike D’Antoni was presented as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday afternoon. Along with addressing the nauseating Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson topics, Mike D’Antoni had an incredibly positive appearance for a guy that is not fit to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
To clarify, D’Antoni is coming off knee replacement surgery, so he’s not physically fit to coach the Lakers. Mentally, he was about as sharp, relaxed, and spirited as anyone could have ever imagined, especially for a man who claimed he was on medication.
D’Antoni discussed his goals for this season, “We are built to win this year. This is not a project.” D’Antoni continued, “Our expectation is to win the championship.” This was a no-brainer, but hearing it come out of the new coach’s mouth numerous times in his first press conference was comforting to Lakers fans. D’Antoni understands what Los Angeles expects. Anything less, he’ll hear about it.
D’Antoni shared insight into his coaching philosophy by repeating “I don’t like to call a lot of plays.” Instead, he talked about allowing the offense to flow, a welcomed departure from what Mike Brown was doing with this team. The new coach also discussed his bond with Steve Nash at length, and once again, hinted at the importance of Nash.
“When we get Steve Nash back, it’ll be a lot easier because he knows what to do.” D’Antoni went on to expand on this comment by saying, “Steve Nash will run the offense.” D’Antoni explained himself to be a concept coach who works on spacing and getting his players high percentage shots, rather than calling every play.
He talked about taking Dwight Howard’s back to the basket game out and focusing on pick and rolls. His goal was to get Howard more dunks. That should give Lakers fans something to be happy about. Dwight Howard’s back to the basket game may not develop under D’Antoni, but the Lakers and the fans in the stands should be better for it.