Mike D'Antoni May Not 'Need Public Approval', but He Deserves It

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts watches play during a 79-77 Indiana Pacer win at Staples Center on November 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have continued to struggle and play uninspired basketball as Mike D'Antoni starts to get comfortable in the high head coaching chair in Los Angeles, and even though he's struggled he seems to have been woken up over the past few games even as the public disapproves of his job.

D'Antoni's record is, of course, unimpressive. He's a meager 5-9 since he joined the Lakers, but at this point, he is the man the Lakers are going to have to deal with over the course of the rest of the season.

If for some reason the Buss Family has another freak out in the coming months and fire D'Antoni, I just don't see how that helps their team.

For that reason and the fact that D'Antoni has yet to play with a full Lakers squad and he's starting to show the fire in the belly that deserves a little bit of respect.

First of all, let's take a look at the bad the Lakers have dealt with over the past month under Mike D'Antoni.

Of course, Los Angeles is a meager 5-9 under D'Antoni. They've played uninspired defense and when other players can't score, they rely on Kobe Bryant to do every bit of the work, which hasn't worked out well for them thus far.

Pau Gasol continued to struggle before he was finally sat with some tender knees and the Lakers found no way to really implement him effectively when he was playing.

In D'Antoni's tenure, the Lakers have lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings and the Indiana Pacers, while blowing a huge lead to the Houston Rockets who made the effort thanks to Toney Douglas.

Yea, things have gotten pretty bad.

However, the stretch hasn't been without some positive.

First of all, D'Antoni has worked his magic with yet another stretch-4, and even if that isn't Pau Gasol it's a positive.

Antawn Jamison has been on-and-off, but he was never really expected to be a lights-out player. What he has done, however, is contribute double-figure scoring in six of his past 12 games, including a 33-point performance in their win over the Denver Nuggets.

Given some regularity in the lineup and a consistent point guard, Jamison should iron out the wrinkles and be consistently effective off the bench.

Plus, if there's one positive to take away from the disastrous first quarter of the season it's that Kobe Bryant has yet to freak out. He's stayed calm and collective, and that has to point to some sort of trust in the situation that D'Antoni is in charge of.

So why should the general Lakers-supporting public approve of this guy? Well, there are a ton of reasons.

Off the top, we have to acknowledge how difficult it is to take over a team in the middle of the season and get them to learn your style of basketball on the fly.

He's in charge of some of the league's best players, and he's got to put together a system to fit them all together, and without two of their best players, while everybody else is rolling along with the same group of guys they've been around since training camp.

That, plus the fact that Steves Nash and Blake are on the sidelines and Gasol's ailing knees have made things increasingly difficult for D'Antoni.

I'm not saying take pity on the guy, just recognize the roadblocks that existed for any new coach coming in, and it's not just the struggles of a guy who isn't Phil Jackson.

Then there's the fire that he's starting to show in his belly. He hasn't really been in panic mode yet this season, but he did turn on an angry mode a few games ago that we hadn't seen this season.

However, the biggest reason for the public to approve of D'Antoni as this team's coach is pretty plain and simple. This is the Lakers' coach.

The only way he ends up fired is if the front office decides to egregiously shake things up and make them go through another "getting to know you" period with who I assume would be Bernie Bickerstaff again.

If D'Antoni ends up getting fired at some point this season, it would be nothing short of shocking when you consider the weight it puts on a team.

Basically, that means Lakers fans should approve of D'Antoni because he's going to be there for the season, and it's a lot easier for him to do his job when people aren't deriding him every step of the way.

Of course, Lakers failure is a pleasure to fans of other teams, so continue to doubt and jeer him for all the good it does.


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