The Los Angeles Lakers went through some drastic changes during the 2012-13 NBA season with a questionable hire at head coach following the firing of Mike Brown. The Lakers front office decided to hire Mike D'Antoni over 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson and the results have been costly. Although there was a lot of debate over who decided to pass on Jackson, the Zen Master let it be known that Dr. Jerry Buss had the final say according to Sam Amick of USA Today on March 3:
“You know, it was something that has bounced from spot to spot. When I left (the interview), Jimmy was pretty happy about it and Mitch was still saying, “We’re going to keep interviewing people,” and I think the ultimate (decision) kind of rested with Dr. Buss and he made the decision in the hospital the day after.”
Once the Lakers chose to go with D'Antoni instead of Jackson, the season seemed to spiral out of control and the team has yet to recover. The Lakers were barely able to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in four games.
Many believe that inserting Jackson would've immediately changed the culture in Los Angeles and for good reason. Jackson led the franchise to five titles during his time with the Lakers and had the talent to at least make them competitive in the West last season.
Injuries were a major problem for the Lakers last year and that seems to have carried over this year, but it'd be hard to argue that Jackson couldn't have had an impact on the squad. Even Dwight Howard was lobbying for the team to hire Jackson and that might have been enough to prevent his departure to the Houston Rockets had it happened.
Not only did Dwight leave town in free agency, but Kobe Bryant suffered a potentially career-ending injury rupturing his Achilles tendon with only two games left in the season. Needless to say, nothing has gone right since the team made the decision to pick D'Antoni over a proven winner in Jackson.
Only time will tell if the storied franchise can turn things around in the near future. As of right now, things aren't looking good with Kobe entering the twilight of his career and no telling if the Lakers will be able to bounce back quickly.
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