Phil Jackson: Why Lakers Made Right Call Taking Mike D'Antoni over Former Coach

James MaahsContributor IIINovember 13, 2012

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 11:  Former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers were swept out of their best of seven series with the Dallas Mavericks four games to none. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Phil Jackson was as surprised as anyone by the Los Angeles Lakers' decision to hire Mike D'Antoni for the head coaching position.

So much so that his agent, Todd Musburger, said that Jackson was disappointed by the way the deal happened (via Ramona Shelburne ESPN):

He didn't deserve the job, that's their decision. They can hire whoever they wish. But don't say to someone you've got until Monday and then roust him from slumber at midnight to say, "By the way we hired somebody else." That's just not fair dealing and Phil deserved fair dealing. He's a good faith person and he was dealt with poorly. It is indicative of the shabby way that organization is being run.

Both D'Antoni and Jackson were believed to be in the running for the position soon after the firing of Mike Brown. It was thought that fan favorite and 11-time NBA champion Jackson would accept the job under the right circumstances.

As bad as things might have gone with the Lakers coaching decision, they still made the right choice.

Given the "We Want Phil" chants heard during the past few games, this decision will surely leave many fans disappointed with the organization's decision.

If Mike D'Antoni can come in and pick up the 3-4 Lakers, fans will grow to like the head coach pick. In fact, like much of the Lakers' culture, they will embrace him until the winning ceases. 

The "Zen Master" would not have been the best choice for this revamped Lakers team. Regardless of history, the Lakers needed fresh blood to lead them in the locker room.


Let's face it, in Jackson's last season with the Lakers he seemed to lack control and was disconnected from most of the players. He appeared tired during the 2010-2011 season, like his coaching itch was gone. This led to a second-round sweep of the Lakers by the Dallas Mavericks.

Jackson's energy was zapped; he had won all there was to win as a head coach and the reasons for him to stay were shrinking. It doesn't look as if his coming back would have energized his coaching style.

In fact, one of the main reasons why he was considering a comeback was due to the fans. Jackson acknowledged the fans' take on the position (via Ramona Shelburne ESPN):

The decision is of course theirs to make. I am gratified by the groundswell of support from the Laker Fans who endorsed my return and it is the principal reason why I considered the possibility.

Mike D'Antoni will pick up the slumping Lakers, as any coaching change usually invigorates a team to up their play.

But aside from that, D'Antoni has a good relationship with Steve Nash and a system that could get the ball moving better.

His work with the Phoenix Suns has shown that Nash could blend in well on a pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard or Kobe Byrant. Strategy at half court will also be an emphasis for the Lakers heading into the new coaching regime.

D'Antoni's recent coaching history won't help his case, but, regardless, a new head coach can always find redemption. His losing seasons with the New York Knicks led to his resignation from the organization, a mark that won't reflect too well on the hire by the Lakers.

Phil Jackson is never a bad hire by any organization in the NBA and his name will always resonate with success. However, the time has come for a new spark; this Lakers team is in need of a jump-start and D'Antoni is the man to do it.