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Mike D’Antoni plays the role of scapegoat in the Lakers saga

"Mike D'Antoni displaying his struggle face"
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Mike D'Antoni has resigned his position as the Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach. D'Antoni had one year remaining on his contract and even asked the Lakers to pick up the team option for the 2015-16 season. When the Lakers decided against it as oppose to being in a lame-duck situation D'Antoni stepped down as the fourth head coach of the franchise in the last three years.

Mike D'Antoni took over after the Lakers fired Mike Brown after 71 games at the helm of the purple and gold and in less than two years on the job resigned. D'Antoni coached the Lakers for 154 games posting a record of 67-87 with a playoff appearance. The Lakers injury-riddled 27-55 campaign, their worst in more than 50 years unfortunately happened on D'Antoni's watch. The Lakers missed the playoffs for only the third time in 38 years.

Both Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni had the unenviable task of following a legend, 11-time NBA Championship Head Coach Phil Jackson. The most envious position would be the guy after that guy. This statement my shock some, but contrary to popular belief Mike D'Antoni is a good coach. D'Antoni is the son of a legendary high school basketball coach in West Virginia and Ohio. D'Antoni does get to leave on his terms.

D'Antoni was the NBA Coach of the Year after the 2004-05 season and the man credited with re-invigorating fast break basketball in a league gone stale.D'Antoni is the same guy that had a book written about his whose signature up-tempo system it just did not work in Los Angeles. The Lakers and D'Antoni were an odd fit to begin with. You can argue that D'Antoni had a roster devoid of talent, that several key players injured and past their prime.

The argument has valid concerns, however in 12 years and 881 games as a NBA Head Coach for the Nuggets, Suns, Knicks and Lakers D'Antoni has a record of 455-426 with a .516 –winning percentage. In 59 playoff games Mike D'Antoni coached teams went 26-33 with a .441 winning percentage.

D'Antoni has also coached a team that has won less than 45 games eight times. D'Antoni will play the role of fall guy for the Los Angeles Lakers although when you consider that every Mike D'Antoni coached team has the unique distinction of not playing any defense or performing the act so sporadically that it can classified as non-existent. In a league of 30 teams the Lakers ranked 29th defensively.

The Lakers allowed on average 109.2 points per game, but exceeded that amount on 39 occasions, the purple and gold allowed 120 points 10 times, 130 points three times and 140 points three times. The fact that D'Antoni runs a system that is not conducive for big men being a factor and is stubbornly reluctant to making defense a priority is reason for a jettison. Mike D'Antoni was not the Lakers biggest problem, far from it.

The Lakers have allowed two of the best basketball minds (Jerry West and Phil Jackson) walk out of their building. Jim Buss has dropped the ball now on two head coaches. In fairness, if David Stern, influenced by the small market NBA owners: did not validate Donald Sterling with the Chris Paul trade we might view Jim Buss in a whole different light.

After Lakers Vice President of Public Relations John Black confirmed D'Antoni's exit the team released the following statement "Given the circumstances, I don't know that anybody could have done a better job the Mike did the past two seasons," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "One behalf of the Lakers, we thank Mike for the work ethic, professionalism and positive attitude that he brought to the team every day. We wish him the best of luck."

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