Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni has had a rocky relationship with the media and the team’s fans during his time with the franchise. He didn’t do anything to fix that after a road loss on Monday night.
After a 117-90 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, D’Antoni was asked what he thought about fans possibly being discouraged by his team’s back-to-back losses (by a combined 46 points) and a 13-15 start to the season.
D’Antoni had the following to say:
Why would I be discouraged? We’re fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well before and they’ll play (well) again. If (the fans) are discouraged, then, you know, find another team to root for. I’m all right. We’re not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That’s not even fair to these guys.
Oh Mike, Mike, Mike, what have you done? I get that you want to defend your team and the players that, remarkably, have kept the Lakers relatively competitive despite a slew of key injuries. But you never, and I mean never, call out your own fan base.
The diplomatic thing to do would have been to say something along the lines of “fans just have to stick with us, we’ll get this thing turned around,” or “we’re fighting hard, we just need to fix some things,” or something along those lines. Calling out the people who pay money to come see your team play? Not a good idea.
The Lakers are currently without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmer, making their backcourt look more like a MASH unit than a playmaking force. Yes, it has to be frustrating for D’Antoni, especially given how much his system relies on guards. But lashing out at fans is the exact wrong way to get people on his side.
Truth be told, the Lakers have actually been fun to watch this year when they’ve been competitive. Guys like Nick Young, Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson have revitalized their careers with their hustle, effort, athleticism and shot-making. But being fun to watch doesn’t necessarily equate to winning basketball.
While D’Antoni is working with an undermanned squad, there is very little reason to believe he’ll be retained after this season if the Lakers miss the postseason. His system looks great at times and dismal at others and his gruff personality hasn’t endeared him to fans or the media. He has a brilliant offensive mind but in Los Angeles, you need more than that if you’re not winning championships.
Monday night’s outburst was just the most recent in a long line of missteps for the 62-year-old coach.