Interview With Laker Coach Mike D’Antoni

Rey Moralde —  July 13, 2013

While at Las Vegas Summer League, we caught up with Laker coach Mike D’Antoni, who was taking in the Los Angeles Clippers/Atlanta Hawks game.

FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Coach D’Antoni, how did last year’s Laker season compare to all of the other years in your coaching career?

MIKE D’ANTONI: It is what it is. It’s fun, it’s exciting. We just had to deal with a lot of stuff that happened last year. But in the end, we ended the year with a positive note. We’re looking forward to this coming year.

FB&G: Did the “WE WANT PHIL” chants bother you? I know it’s tough to follow a man who has won 11 championship rings.

MDA: You can understand it. You don’t invite it. But it doesn’t bother you.

FB&G: Do you expect Kobe back by the start of the regular season?

MDA: Yeah, I hope so. If anybody can do it, he can do it.

FB&G: As far as Dwight goes, what was your first reaction when you heard about him going to Houston?

MDA: It wasn’t a real big surprise. He just had to make a decision what was best for him. He did it, we’ll move on and do the best we can do.

FB&G: Lastly, I know it’s July. A lot of people seem to be writing off the Lakers. Should we write them off?

MDA: I would never write Kobe Bryant off. Or Steve Nash. Or Pau Gasol. I can understand why they do but that’s okay. You don’t win a championship in July. And we’ll see what happens.

We’d like to thank D’Antoni for a few minutes of his time.

Rey Moralde

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35 responses to Interview With Laker Coach Mike D’Antoni

  1. Rey Nice score getting the interview. And good questions – as to the answers:
    “It’s fun” – uh – I am going to call foul on that – I will cite anyone of thousands of MD photos last year. He was not having “fun”.
    “But it doesn’t bother you.” Well – politically correct – but foul again – of course it bothered him.
    “Yeah, I hope so.” Wrong thing for MD to say. That is what you say about someone who is not going to try. With KB he should be downplaying expectations, not making it seem like Game 1 is expected.
    “It wasn’t a real big surprise.” Not a surprise? Then why didn’t you, Jim and Mitch do something to change that?
    “You don’t win a championship in July.” How would he know?

  2. Rey asked good questions, but I tried to count the sports interview cliches the coach dropped in response and it just wasn’t worth the effort.

    Let’s hope the Lakers can stay within themselves, give 110 percent and…. Whatever.

    D’Antoni’s remarks basically said nothing.

  3. “Or Pau Gasol.”
    —–
    You Could’ve Fooled Me.

  4. Next season.D.A. gets to run his system…..A system that doenst win rings….That is a good way to build for the future…..

  5. Lakers win championships regular season games are just a prelude. Will Lakers win 2013 championship with Kobe in the lead? No.

    Lakers needs to go lotto and hoard ping pong balls. Lakers winning only 20 2013 games would be best possible result.

    Top lotto 2014 draft pick and 2014 free agents could make Lakers 2014 contenders.

    Kobe wants to sign extension prior to the season. Kobe seeks $75 million over 4 years. What do you Mitch?

    Can Mitch man up and tell Kobe — he is year – year contract employee now?

    Jordan played year to year, why can’t Kobe?

  6. Gene, you still here?

    U do realize that the whole NBA is running D’Antoni’s system? That whole, get the ball and run to the 3PT line thing that MIA does, that SAS do, that most of the successful teams in the NBA are built or building to do… All of them have incorporated the D’Antoni system. His system changed the NBA.

  7. Rey, I like a lot of your work, but why didn’t you ask him some X and O’s stuff, or inside the coach’s process type questions, instead of the ones you went with? Was D’Antoni ever going to give you a worthwhile answer to questions that doctors don’t have an answer for, and which tons of other journalists already asked? What sort of insight did you expect we would gain from D’Antoni’s reaction to the Dwight news? It just seems like odd questions that don’t serve an audience that FB&G tries to cultivate.

    I hope this critique of your post is taken with all due respect. I am sure there are pressures to maintain access, or perhaps expectations you might have of the audience. I’m just saying, all the questions you asked have been asked already, the cliques have been set into writing, and there are far more relevant questions one might ask a professional coach who has worked at the highest levels of the sport.

  8. No, I get ya. It’s also not often we get someone like D’Antoni. Heck, I didn’t even expect him to be here in Vegas.

    But notes taken. Thank you.

  9. Yea he revolutionized the game, but he still is a overrated coach. His excess usage on his star players minutes, lack of defense and flexibility, and just being Mike D will not bring the Lake Show any championships. I hope just hope I’m wrong.

  10. Rey good questions, robot answers.

    Every few years a new system is introduced in basketball that takes the league by storm, fast break, twin towers, defensive schemes and the three guard lineup. These basketball stunts are predicated on player personnel more than anything. Eventually the game reverts back to Naismith”s foundational basis of the.game, skilled players and big.

    Great post, Robert.

  11. Paul Westhead actually started the “fast’ system. The trouble with D.A. is the lack of defense. You do realize that Miami and S.A. play defense…..You also need fast players to run….Kobe…Nash..Gasol…Kaman are NOT fast…..BTW S.A. and Mia dont try and shoot within 7 seconds….

  12. Agreed C.Hearn. Plus MDA’s system is no more than glorified European basketball. If you watched the USA in the Olympics you saw it first-hand. If you have 4-5 superstars running this system it is a thing of beauty. If not it will get you pounded in the NBA. MDA needs to adapt and tweak things to fit his current situation or he won’t be around for long.

  13. The defensive effort needs to improve 1000 fold.

  14. No coach will ever be good enough for the Lakers after Riles and PJ’s success. But it would be unfair from Lakers fans not to give 2 straight coaches a chance to prove themselves. Everybody on the team has flaws, players and coaches, but we put up with them because they’re good players. Maybe D’Antoni proves us wrong with a roster he’s more familiar with.

  15. So all winners are running his system but he has no rings? Maybe his man management is the problem.

  16. I realize that putting D’Antoni’s name up there opened the door to people going off on him again, but MDA was just giving stock answers in a very brief exchange during or around a summer league game with (no offense, Rey) an unpaid guy from a blog that MDA has probably barely heard of. Even if Rey had asked some X/O question it is unlikely that D’Antoni would have given a lengthy reply in that situation.

    People can say what they want, but bagging on the interview exchange itself/dissecting the answers from either POV (MDA’s answers or the questions) strikes me as being pointless.

  17. MD’A was more likely to say something meaningful to a smart guy asking savvy questions about what the coach is passionate about then in responding to the ones chosen. Rey knows the game. He understands basketball. He has a passion for the sport and the team MD’A coaches. One is more likely to build on those mutual interests then on questions that MD’A has heard, in one form or another, from the hundreds of journalists he wishes he could avoid. As Popovich said to a question asked during the finals, “Your question begs my trite-ness”

    Gene, have a look at the pace adjusted stats of his 7-sec or less era in PHX. They played D. I don’t love MD’A but to say his system hasn’t won chips ignores too much of the influence his system has had on the league. The Triple-Post was around a long time before it won chips and even then, only one coach has made it work to that degree.

  18. Not to sound like a jerk, but what’s the point of critiquing the questions or the answers. It’s one thing to have time to prep for an interview that’s planned in advance & quite another to see your subject, be granted availability, & go in cold. It’s also not like there was a game to critique whic is when X’s & O’s questions often come most natural. Taking shots at Rey, even with a “no offense” reeks of Monday morning quarterbacking.

  19. As Darius says, this apparently was not a planned interview and as I said, this was a rushed situation. If Morales had asked something like, “How will you use Pau and Kaman together–do you see them working in HORNS sets a lot?” that would have been an odd question for a summer league game. And, I expect if there had been a question about CDR or Sacre or Landry, MDA would have just said,’We are pleased with what we’ve seen and we are trying to evaluate guys as best we can.”

    Also, I assume that Morales was not getting paid to be there, and it is not as if FBG has a subscription fee or is behind a paywall.

  20. There are people on this blog who really hate Mike D’Antoni and we all know who they are. There is very little new you can add to your comments. Ok, we get it. Say it once in each thread where you have a chance – then let others comment.

    There are a lot of good coaches and players who have never won rings. In sports talent has to meet opportunity to be a major player/coach and get a ring. For the rest it has to be pure luck of being able to play with these stars in the right years. Elgin Baylor retired early in the year the Lakers won their first ring in L.A. so he hasn’t won one – does that make him any worse a player? If you think it does, then you seriously haven’t been following sports much.

    We had a team that was touted to be a lock for the finals before the season started. Our Monday-morning quarterbacking now is that everyone was too old and too slow. Those weren’t our comments a year ago. D’Antoni was chosen because the Lakers wanted to move to a more open and up-tempo type of game. That was a management decision – all of the operating management. The least we can do is give this current team a chance to get their sea legs before we roast them over the fire.

    Quite possibly this year will not be as competitive as we would like, but I want to see what these guys can do.

  21. I´m just hoping the team will buy into D´Antoni´s system this upcoming season – of course if losses begin to pile up, I can´t see that happening throughout the long haul (I know, we´ll be lucky to make the playoffs, I know)
    Way to seize on the opportunity Rey, good goin´

  22. i absolutely love this site and i would rather not depart with it but darius you gotta loosen up…were just playing around…the interview is a little lacking and things are slow news wise in lakerland…the point is better questions could have been asked and we really got nothing new from coach thats all

  23. First off: Glad to see FB&G getting a chance to have an exclusive with a Lakers head coach *period.* second: I haven’t heard much about the fact that Mike Brown has been hired by the Cavs and now have come off the Lakers books. This now makes it “possible” for the Lakers to move on from MDA without paying 3 head coach salaries at once. I say give MDA a chance to show what he can do with this sub-par roster this year and then make a decision next summer on moving on or not. That will also just leave one year of his contract left to pay on top of the new coach. If he doesn’t establish a strong culture on this team after a full season plus training camp, I’d like the Lakers to try making a move for Jerry Sloan or PJ (of course) in 2014.

  24. Some people take themselves too seriously. I thought the interview was well done. Hoping FB&G continues to get this kind of access in the future.

  25. What’s holding up the Farmar signing?

  26. C.Hearn,
    Farmar needs to negotiate his buyout. I’ve read it’s $500K, but that may not be correct. In any event, I expect it to get done eventually.

    Batman,
    I’ll lighten up when people stop taking unnecessary shots at the writers without having any clue what it takes to operate in that environment. And, to be honest, leave or stay, that’s on you…but if you stay and take shots at the writers — people who put time into this site for no compensation in an effort to get readers information and analysis — expect to hear from me. Especially when you write silly things with a “lol” at the end like the ridiculous comment you posted earlier that got deleted.

  27. You tell ‘em Darius!
    I love this site and the writers who contribute and, of course, (most of) the people that comment.

    Hopefully FB&G can become well known and be part of more interviews!

  28. I liked that D.A adjusted his system and the Lakers responded with a good second half….but now he is going back to run and gun(confirmed by nick young)yet the roster is still really slow….Gasol…Kobe…kaman…are slow..

  29. gene,
    It is more likely that our 2nd unit will play at a distinctly different pace than our 1st unit – if only because of age and experience. That was something Phil preferred and I suspect most coaches want flexibility in their lineups.

    Last year was a learning process for Mike D. and I don’t think we can assume he will toss over all he learned last year. He may prefer a certain style, but that doesn’t mean he will be inflexible.

  30. All you can do is ask the questions and kudos to Rey for getting the the heart of the matter. In all truth, Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller didn’t get all that much more except that MDA peppered that segment with a number of pained chuckles. D’Antonio has been under the media gun since he arrived on the scene and I can’t think of a tougher environment to come into – a pretty sub-par season with injuries galore and arriving as the guy they jilted Phil Jackson for? Man. No wonder he’s so locked down. I can’t think of too many coaches who look more pained (recently) when faced with anybody who’s got a mic or tape recorder. On the other hand, did anybody catch the interview with Kerr and Miller BEFORE D’Antoni? Mike Brown just wasn’t gonna stop talking. Not that there’s anything earth-shattering in what he says but that dude likes to chat. Rey, go find MB!

  31. Goudelock is on Chicago’s Summer League squad.

    Morris doesn’t seem to be on a squad but he did have a puffy interview after the Laker’s exit:
    http://t.co/b6SEKFL9NZ

    DJO is on Denver’s squad after spending time on Boston’s at Orlando.

    Since Peace was salary dumped (I shake my fist at the gods), I wonder if the Lakers are going to only carry 13 at the beginning of the season.

  32. D’Antoni was chosen because the Lakers wanted to move to a more open and up-tempo type of game.


    That is the public statement, but I think it is pretty clear that there are other personal reasons as well. And, again, Jim Buss is now running the show. If the organization is in serious trouble, and it is, that is ultimately on him even though not all of it is his fault.

    As far as Monday-morning Qbing, you are half-right. Yes, the Lakers were a popular favorite after the Nash and Howard deals. But many people, including me, sounded cautionary notes about age, health, defense and depth.

    As to next year’s team, you and other people made similar kinds of statements prior to the 2012 season when some people were saying that the Lakers were not top-tier contenders–and they weren’t. There is no analytical basis–none–for believing that this team can win more than about 42-45 games, and that is if everything breaks right. If doesn’t, they could easily be in the high 20s/low 30s, without making any deals. As was the case in 2012, the let’s see what these guys can do argument would work a lot better if the Lakers had a lot of young guys who might get better. They don’t. The only thing that they have going for them is that the Hill/Pau combo may be better than people on the outside think, but even if that is the case, this team will not be a top tier team in the West. They just do not have the horses.

    All that said, I agree that using this to take shots at MDA and the writer was not a good idea.

  33. People have been insisting for 50 years that the assassination of JFK was a conspiracy, but nothing has surfaced. That’s the problem with conspiracy theories – eventually things leak out and if they don’t, then the conspiracy was probably made up in the first place.

    The conspiracy theory here is that there was some dark plan or feelings that sabotaged the hiring of Phil Jackson and nothing anyone says will deter those feeling this way. Because of this it behooves all the participants to simply shut up and move on with their lives – nothing they say will change the minds of the conspiracy theorists.

    Simply looking at the situation logically, you can come up with a series of events closely paralleling what happened near the beginning of last season.
    1) The team looked like it was actually fracturing under Mike Brown and something had to be done immediately. This thought was further strengthened by the fact that Bickerstaff was so successful in the interim.
    2) The NBA is moving away from the type of system basketball that Phil Jackson likes to run and fewer and fewer players are interested in playing that way – regardless of Phil’s past results.
    3) The Buss family really wanted to get to an uptempo type of game – hence hiring Mike Brown in the first place was certainly a giant mistake.
    4) Phil had not only burned out, both physically and mentally, in his last stint as coach, but he also was more interested in controlling more of the decision-making process, right at the time Jim Buss was taking full control of the club – creating a situation like the one with Jerry West, but with Phil on the ‘short straw’ end this time.
    5) Mike A’ntoni was physically not in great shape, but Phil didn’t come in and grab the chance he might have had on Saturday – he dithered.
    6) After discussion among the main players (Mitch, Jerry, Jim) it was decided going with Mike D. was a better choice to take the club where the ownership wanted to take it.

    I know this doesn’t have a lot of intrigue, or twists and turns, but it is a very plausible scenario. Of course this doesn’t help ESPN’s ratings, so some other scenarios have to be floated to make this a proper story – hence all the subterfuge and back-stabbing is invented and we are off to the races.

  34. I think some criticism among a hail of praise should be acceptable…I was really dying of laughter my man as I always do when awkward interviews take place…it’s funny, don’t think because one entry was weak & several people called it out we don’t enjoy 99% of the content, or think the job is easy (fun yeah) it’s why I enjoy this site among many bigger & more colorful ones the couple hundred regular posters are usually intelligent & it feels more like a family families bust on eachother what I said wasn’t soul crushing…mike gave a horrible interview that I found to be funny

  35. Great responses, Robert!