Mike D’Antoni has managed to maintain a level of professionalism during an abysmal season.
In fact, he’s even had a sense of humor about the whole ordeal.
D’Antoni praised Nick Young’s “swag” in an interview earlier this year (see embedded video).
Instead of condemning “Swaggy P” for a quirky attitude that could be misconstrued as a lack of professionalism, Mike D appreciates the energy his shooting guard brings to team practices.
In addition, 33-year-old point guard Steve Blake said after getting traded to the Warriors, “I’ve loved playing for Coach D’Antoni,” per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
The Italian coach has handled the bright lights of L.A. extremely well given the circumstances. However, not everyone on the roster has made it easy for him.
It’s no secret that veteran big man Pau Gasol has had his differences with Coach D’Antoni during his stint in L.A.
The Spaniard was openly critical of his role in the Lakers offense, saying in December, “When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity,” per the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan.
His coach responded by saying, “Everybody, to a man, we’ve just got to play harder and worry about things less.”
Gasol turned his fortunes around in January by averaging 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the floor. He genuinely looked like an All-Star after persistent struggles, but a groin injury in February set him back.
In spite of the 33-year-old's All-Star-caliber play, the Lakers haven’t been able to overcome an overall lack of talent. That prompted the 7-footer to call out his coach again by saying the team lacks discipline, according to McMenamin via Twitter.
D’Antoni didn’t appreciate Gasol’s words, saying, “It’s very easy just to come over and talk about your frustrations,” per McMenamin. He added that the veteran big man should “keep it in-house.”
Fans have already seen that Gasol can succeed in this system from his torrid streak in January, so his critical stance has started to ring somewhat hollow.
D'Antoni has seen some bumps in the road when dealing with players and the media, but his overall persona has simply gotten a bad rap.