From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angles: Kobe Bryant may be at peace with Mike D’Antoni becoming the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s not OK with the league’s reluctance to embrace Phil Jackson. Bryant said he hasn’t spoken to Jackson since the Lakers chose to hire D’Antoni instead of the 11-time championship-winning coach, but he was outspoken about how Jackson and his assistant coaches have been underappreciated for their success. “It seems like all our assistant coaches when they left here, to even mention the word ‘Triangle’ was like taboo,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ 84-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. “I don’t understand it. I really don’t know the answer to that question. It’s very strange, very bizarre. You would think that organizations and other coaches should try to learn from Phil. That’s what you should try to do, right? If you have a coach that’s won more than anybody in our profession, you would think you’d want to study them and analyze them, but they haven’t done it.”
From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN.com: Sometime on Wednesday, Mike D’Antoni will board a flight from New York to Los Angeles, hobbling on a still-healing knee, and step into one of the most high-profile jobs in professional sports. His interview for the job was short and to the point, and the expectations are crystal clear: Win now. And win it all. Adding to the pressure, the Los Angeles Lakers chose D’Antoni over former coach Phil Jackson, who has won 11 NBA titles, including five with the Lakers. Fans in Los Angeles had been chanting Jackson’s name in the two games the Lakers have played since firing Mike Brown last Friday.
From Eric Pincus , LA Times: The Lakers will introduce a new head coach Thursday. Can Mike D’Antoni get something more out of the backup shooting guard position? Kobe Bryant, through eight games, is averaging 36.3 minutes per game, leaving just 11.7 for reserves Jodie Meeks and Devin Ebanks. It’s only natural for coaches to want to limit their players’ minutes through the regular season so they’re fresh for the playoffs. The more Meeks and Ebanks can bring to the game, the less D’Antoni will be forced to rely on Bryant. Meeks was brought in as a shooter, but he’s hit just 27.3% of his shots (20% from three-point range) for 2.5 points a game. Ebanks was recently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and the Lakers haven’t played him since. Through four games, Ebanks also averaged 2.5 points while shooting 23.1% from the field. Neither Meeks nor Jamison contribute much else by way of steals, rebounds or assists.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: I have the utmost respect for Magic Johnson the basketball player. I think he gets shortchanged in GOAT conversations, a guy who broke the mold and would have fit it brilliantly in today’s NBA undergoing a positional revolution because guys are trying to develop the varried skill set he had. I think Johnson should be remembered more for what he did off the court. How he became a symbol that helped change perceptions and the debate about HIV and AIDS. How as a businessman he succeed by bringing amenities to parts of Los Angeles that were underserved by large corporations only looking at spreadsheets. He is a towering figure in the city. Magic Johnson the basketball analyst… I don’t really have much use for. Everyone can have an opinion, let’s just say mine and his disagree quite often. So when I see what he tweeted Wednesday, I just shrug.
From Sam Amick, USA Today Sports: If LeBron James and his Miami Heat colleagues felt so inclined, they could author a book on the art of meshing superstar players and their personalities after all they went through leading up to the championship last June. The Los Angeles Lakers, as fate would have it, could use that sort of how-to guide right about now. As was the case with the Heat two seasons ago, a slow start (9-8 for the Heat, 1-4 for the Lakers) caused all sorts of consternation among the team’s fans and led to pressure to fire the coach. The Heat didn’t, standing by coach Erik Spoelstra and ultimately looking smart because of it.