The latest news on the Lakers hasn’t been good. With Dwight Howard talking negatively about Kobe, the organization, and injuries to Dwight Howard, Nash, and Gasol in the beginning of the year, the atmosphere in L.A. is toxic. Coach D’Antoni should be released from the Lakers because he is inconsistent as a Coach; he does not implement his ideas, his message to the players falls on deaf ears and he does not demand respect from his team. It seems as if he does not know how to handle or coach All-Star players like Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kobe, Howard, and Gasol. When he was the head coach of the Knicks, it was evident he could not handle the personalities nor egos of Carmelo and Stoudemire; both wanted the spot light, captain position, and to be the go to guy in crucial moments of the game. As we all know, Kobe is the go to guy in every game, but he does not pass the ball enough to be considered a true ‘team’ player.
As of late, the Lakers have won three consecutive games and have changed their dynamic as a team because Kobe is passing the ball more to his teammates and it seems to be working for them. Those three games they won have been a prime example that they can win if they work together as a team and communicate to each other. Passing the ball to Metta World Peace when he is open for a three point shot and having the confidence that Meta will deliver and make the shot has been a tremendous change for Kobe and his team. The most interesting statistic is that Kobe is scoring fewer points (14 to 15 points per game) and it’s not hurting the team…it’s helping. His willingness to share is making Gasol, Meta, and Nash better. Kobe is not attacking the paint as much; instead, he is being the facilitator or as they call it in basketball – the point guard. The one issue I see with the Lakers is that while they play hard, have great energy, attack the boards, pass the ball, and are aggressive in the first three quarters, by the 4th quarter they tend to relax, and not be aggressive on offense and defense. That is exactly what happened when they played against the Phoenix Suns last week. They were dominating throughout the entire game and had a double digit lead until they stopped playing their style of basketball. Michael Beasley scored his season high with 27 points and the Suns rallied from 13 down to win the game in the 4th quarter. This was Steve Nash’s first trip back from Phoenix and it was not what he wanted or expected with a loss at his old stomping ground.
The biggest moments Coach D’Antoni had as a head coach were with is the Phoenix Suns in 2005-2006 when Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Stoudemire were on the team. The five seasons Coach D’Antoni was with the Suns have been his most successful years as a head coach. His first year as the Coach for the Suns in the 2003-2004 season was a great start for the team and Coach D. They team won 61 games and only got better as the seasons went on with a .500 record. The team and the organization were thrilled to have Coach D’Antoni due to the fact they had a winning record, the team had great chemistry, and knew how to play together as a unit. Each year he took his team to the playoffs and kept proving to everyone that his system worked well enough to be one of the best in the league. He had an amazing stretch in the 2004-2011 seasons as a Head Coach of a team until he was hired as the Coach of the New York Knicks. The Knicks brought new additions to the organization and it was only a matter of time until the league and fans began to criticize the team and D’Antoni for not having enough chemistry, not playing well together, and not having a leader on the team that could guide them through the ups, and downs. That year, the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, and the three super stars could not play well together, and it took them longer than expected to get it together as a team. The Knicks were losing back to back games and the organization was questioning Coach D’Antoni’s ability to manage the team. He was known for his offense expertise, however the team was not doing well defensively, which caused them to lose a lot of games.
Let’s hope Coach D’Antoni goes back to his Phoenix Suns days, and becomes a successful coach once again.