He really, truly is. Let me explain.
After all, this is a team that was picked by most to win less than half their games and miss the playoffs, and that's before Steve Nash, Kobe Bryan,t Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all got hurt in succession, which pretty much covers every guy on this team that has proven himself capable of dribbling a basketball for extended periods of times. I mean, I'd ask who was next if I felt like tempting fate, you know?
And yet, with all of this misfortune and with Paout Gasol whining his way to his worst season as a Laker, somehow this team has won half of it's games in the brutal Western Conference, and prior to Kobe's (temporary) return had just won 6 of 8 and was playing fast and loose. It is important to gain some perspective here, so allow me to provide a little. This is a team whose leading scorer is Nick Young. Again. Nick Young is the Lakers' leading scorer. Almost the entire rotation is made up of marginal players or cast-offs from other teams. Almost all of them are one year contracts after underperforming for most or all of their careers. We're talking about former lottery picks like Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan HIll, who had done so little to this point, they could consider themselves fortunate to even still be in the NBA. Career bench players like Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks. Lifelong malcontents or knuckleheads like Shawne Williams or Nick Young.
A fistful of Basketball orphans, if you will.
Again, and it's worth repeating, the brilliance of Mike D' Antoni's system is that you don't even need good players to succeed, just the right kind of players. You need athletes. Guys who can shoot. Maybe a decent point guard or two. Give him that much and he'll hold his own. Give him anymore than that and you got trouble.
So yeah, everyone is predicting gloom & doom now that Kobe is hurt again but the truth is the Lakers are 11-9 without Kobe this year and 2-4 with him, and even though they started the season with three competent point guards and are now without four (since the Kobe at the point experiment has come and gone) and have resorted to using Henry there, they somehow still continue to beat teams they shouldn't, play hard and loose and perhaps most importantly, have a little fun out there.
As far as this year goes, it's still and uphill battle to even make the playoffs, but let's not forget where expectations were in October versus what has happened in the first seven weeks of this season. Better yet, let's consider what D' Antoni has done with this very modest cast of characters. This team has won half of it's games despite losing every reputable players beside Pau to injury. This team plays it's ass off and despite all of the proclamations of Mike D' Antoni's teams being horrible defensively, has been surprisingly stingy on that front. Bottom line is, this team has been flat out better than it has any right to, and if you understand the reasons why, you'd not only give D' Antoni his props, you'd be a excited to see what he can do next year with a little more firepower at his disposal.
Hey, someone had to say it. The lesson here isn't that anybody should be patted on the back for winning 50% of the time. No, the lesson has a little to do with writing wrongs, with assigning credit where it is due and maybe, just maybe, admitting that the guy who took most (or all) of the heat for last years' debacle isn't the guy responsible after all.
What can I say, I love this coach. He can do allot with a little. Give him more to work with and who knows?