You know what can be even harder than breaking up? Getting back together. Such requires contrition on the part of at least one of the parties involved.
The sort of contrition that the Lakers' brass (namely, Jim Buss) couldn't quite conjure up during an abbreviated coaching search following Mike Brown's ouster.
All signs seemed to point to Phil Jackson unretiring (again) for his third go-round in LA. He was still living nearby and dating the owner's daughter. He'd allegedly kept tabs on the Lakers' season and, like anyone with even half a brain for basketball, was intrigued by the tremendous talent on hand.
He'd won titles with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and ran a post-heavy offense (the Triangle) that could take full advantage of Dwight Howard's particular talents.
Also, the fans made no secret of their preference. So the Lakers' braintrust made its way down to the Zen Master's abode and sat down with the Hall of Fame coach. The nature of the discussion was and remains a matter of some confusion, thanks in no small part to leaks from unnamed sources (i.e. agents).
Whatever went down, it ultimately didn't favor Phil. The following night (November 11th), word broke that the Lakers had hired Mike D'Antoni to take over their operation. Jackson got the call shortly thereafter, later characterizing the whole process as "slimy."
But the fishiest part of the whole fiasco came several days later, when Mitch Kupchak claimed that D'Antoni's hiring was purely a basketball decision, that the Lakers felt the mustachioed man's uptempo system to be the better fit for their roster (via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com):
Without going into great detail, some of our guys, I don't think would be very successful in the Triangle. Some of our newer players might take a long time to learn the Triangle.
(D'Antoni) plays the way we see this team playing and our personnel executing, the guys that we have on this team.
Right. Because it makes so much more sense to put a roster of aging perimeter players and brilliant low-post threats in the hands of a coach who prefers to push the pace and run the pick-and-roll.
Because it makes more sense to hire a coach who might maximize the contributions of the team's oldest and least-available player (Steve Nash) over one who'd likely understand how to please the presumed future of the franchise (Dwight Howard).
Because an innovator lacking a championship pedigree makes more sense for a veteran roster for the most successful coach in NBA history.
And who, exactly, were the Lakers expecting to swallow this bit of fiction without complaint?