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Mike D'Antoni - Doomed To Fail (In The Eyes Of Many)

When Mike Brown got fired, there was a lot of talk about who the next Lakers head coach was going to be, and once Phil Jackson's name came up it was immediately obvious who Lakers fans wanted to lead a team that had gone winless in the preseason and had been off to a slow start in the regular season. I was just as excited as anyone, with Jackson being a legendary coach and all who had just finished off a spectacular run in LA that resulted in five titles. It seemed like a serious possibility until suddenly suddenly something went wrong, the Lakers seemingly misunderstood or ignored Jackson's request for two days to respond and went and hired Mike D'Antoni, who had resigned the previous season as the NY Knick's head coach.

Needless to say, many Laker fans were not pleased; there were the chants of "We Want Phil!" and the regular criticisms of D'Antoni over the course of the season that stemmed not from a lackluster performance but from anger over the fact that it was not Jackson leading the team. For the whole year, it seemed that a lot of people were still miffed over the loss of Jackson event hough there were way more prominent problems, eg the Lakers' lackluster play and all the injuries to players on the team.

Here's the thing: many Lakers fans were so excited about the possibility of bringing Phil back that they worked themselves into a position where they couldn't possibly not have Phil. There was no one else who could take the job of head coach except for Phil Jackson. Once Jackson did not end up coming to LA, they channelled all their disappointment into disapproval at D'Antoni; Mike Brown had been the one replacing a legend but with Jackson's brief appearance it seemed that D'Antoni was forced to do the exact same thing.

I could go on about the rest of the season as well; the difficulties faced by D'Antoni, the injuries and lousy play that would've made it difficult for any coach to succeed, the fact that at the end of the day the Lakers still managed to fight their way back into contention - finishing things off with a fantastic season-ending run before getting demolished by San Antonio in the playoffs - meaning that D'Antoni couldn't have been that bad. I could also mention the fact that many times D'Antoni's coaching was lacking, that he couldn't find a formula that worked, that maybe he shouldn't have had Kobe play all those minutes until he ran out of steam.

The truth is, Mike D'Antoni's failure was so oft-predicted and - in some cases - anticipated that when the buzzer finally sounded in Game 4 to close out LA's year, it seemed that D'Antoni had been destined to fail in the eyes of many fans and when he did there was no surprise whatsoever; he was not going to find success.

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