Luke Walton is the fourth full-time head coach the Los Angeles Lakers have employed since 2012 (five if you count the GOAT Bernie Bickerstaff). Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni and Byron Scott all struggled with varying expectations during their tenures, and all of that turnover contributed to a perception that L.A. was an unstable organization during that stretch.
With their new brain trust of Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Walton, the team now appears to be on steadier ground, but that former reputation as a rudderless ship is one that has allowed their former coaches a degree of deniability for their struggles, to throw up their hands and basically say “What? There was nothing I could do with that roster/front office!”
D’Antoni especially would seem to have a gripe, as one could argue he overachieved by getting 27 wins out of the truly terrible 2013-14 Lakers roster.
However, according to D’Antoni, those wins didn’t have much to do with him. Or at least that’s what he joked in Lee Jenkins’ latest feature on the Rockets for Sports Illustrated (emphasis mine):
D’Antoni created “teaching tapes” with footage from his time with the Suns and the Knicks (“I didn’t do much coaching after that,” he says of his two-year stint with the Lakers), illustrating the importance of quick outlets, choreographed breaks and sledgehammer screens.
This would appear to be simply the latest shot across the Lakers’ bow delivered by a member of the D’Antoni family this season, with Mike’s wife Laurel delivering a particularly savage counterstrike to an old tweet from Johnson after the Rockets beat L.A. this season:
Happy days are here again! Mike D'Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn't be happier!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 1, 2014
Laurel D'Antoni, Mike's Mrs., at the game tonight was asked how it feels to be back in LA. Said, "Is it classless to say 'Happy days are here again?— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 4, 2017
As annoyed as the Lakers probably are with clap-backs like that, they won’t stop until the team starts winning again. This time without D’Antoni (not) coaching them.