It is fair to say that Mike D’Antoni wasn’t the most popular coach for the Los Angles Lakers. NBA.com reported on Wednesday that D’Antoni has resigned as Head Coach of the storied franchise confirmed by an announcement by Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
D’Antoni was the Lakers’ fourth head coach in less than three years. After taking over for the fired Mike Brown early in the 2012-13 season, D’Antoni led the Lakers to a 67-87 record, including 55 losses in the 2013-14 season, which were the most losses in franchise history. Both the Lakers and D’Antoni have been discussing and reevaluating his future with the team and the team’s unwillingness to pick up the team option on the final year of his contract, D’Antoni made the decision to cut ties with the team.
The former Lakers coach was never able to mesh with some of the big egos on the Lakers team. His issues with Dwight Howard last season as well as his inability to inspire players like Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant also led to his decision to resign.
Kupchak now has the challenge of finding a new head coach for his team, but wished D’Antoni well and praised the coach in a statement released by the team. He said, “Given the circumstances, I don’t k now that anybody could have done a better job than Mike did the past two seasons. On 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.”
D’Antoni has coached the Denver Nuggest, Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks in his head-coaching career. Before being brought in a coach of the Lakers, D’Antoni was praised for his genius on the offensive side of the game. But his vision never translated on the court for the Lakers. Although the news was shocking for some players, former Lakers player Magic Johnson tweeted his happiness with D’Antoni’s decision. He wrote, “Happy days are here again! Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!”
Although Magic Johnson is not alone in his reaction, another NBA Hall of Famer shunned Magic for celebrating D’Antoni’s departure from the Lakers. Charles Barkely said on “Inside the NBA” on Wednesday night following the tweet, “Magic Johnson’s bigger than that. Magic Johnson’s bigger than that. Listen, Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. They didn’t give him a lot to work with. But Magic Johnson, he’s bigger than that.”
Barkely was referring to the fact that he, like many others, thinks D’Antoni was set up to fail as the coach of the Lakers. He wasn’t given much to work with and the team battled many injuries during his time as head coach. He pointed out that the Lakers were going to be a bad team no matter who was coaching, including Phil Jackson.