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First press conference shows Mike D’Antoni near opposite of Mike Brown

Nov 15, 2012, 6:36 PM EDT

New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni smiles during a media conference after practice at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, California Reuters

It took about five minutes of one press conference for one thing to be very clear:

Mike D’Antoni is about the polar opposite of Mike Brown.

The Lakers wanted a clean break and a new direction, and they got that for sure. Brown was controlling — he was a grind-it-out guy focused on defense and a complex offense where he called plays almost every time down the court. He micromanaged and overthought things.

D’Antoni, not so much.

“I don’t like to call a lot of plays, our offense should flow,” D’Antoni said at his introductory press conference with the Lakers, before falling back on one of his mantras. “The ball should find energy and the ball should find our best guys.”

D’Antoni talked about mindset and getting players not to fit a system but to play to their strengths.

Look what he said about Pau Gasol, saying the Spanish big man will play some four, some five and they will “try to open up a little bit more for him.”

“I know players are criticized a lot for not being tough enough, I just don’t buy into it,” D’Antoni added about Gasol. “He’s a tough guy in the sense he is a skilled guy. There is a difference. Sometimes you get outside of what you do. What he does is great and I’m going to do is get him to do what he does.”

It was the same idea talking about Jodie Meeks: “I told him the only time he needs to shoot is when he touches the ball.”

Meeks is a shooter, D’Antoni doesn’t want him to be a ball handler making decisions. It was the same with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash — he talked about flow and space and getting them to do what they do well in just a free flowing way.

He also said multiple times this is the best defensive personnel he has ever had and he expects this team to be a “bear” on defense.

We’ll see. He talked a good game, now is just the challenge of living up to it.

Other press conference highlights:

• D’Antoni did not shy away from title talk: “We’re built to win this year, this is not a project. We have a window and we’re going to try and get through it.”

• He said his first game as coach likely would be Sunday, not Friday against the Suns.

• He said he didn’t hear Magic Johnson’s comments that ESPN has beat into the ground all Thursday. But he basically shrugged off all the criticism saying he understands but if he wins it would all go away. He’s right.

• D’Antoni talked a lot about process. “We have to have goals, we have to understand the game Friday is a step on the road to the championship. We can’t will ourselves into June, but we have to play the regular season. That is important, we have to build a foundation.”

• “I think that’s the biggest challenge, that we didn’t have a (training) camp. The work we’re doing now, today in practice, we would do that in September… The good part is they are great players and they pick it up pretty quick.”

• As for his time in New York… He said he backed the Carmelo Anthony trade, and while he supported getting Tyson Chandler those two deals left them without a point guard to run his point-guard driven offense. They struggled. And when they struggled everything turned on them and everyone got killed in the media. He was philosophical about it.

• D’Antoni on his relationship with Kobe dating back to when Kobe’s dad played with D’Antoni in Italy when Kobe was 12. “He can come over and cuss me out in Italian and you guys might not even know it.”

• Also about Kobe: “That’s the most competitive guy I’ve ever been around… his intensity, that is something that as a coach, I love it. And he’s playing great basketball right now, as great as he has ever played.”

• He says this will not be a seven seconds or less team, but he wants the tempo faster. “If you’ve got the best team, why wouldn’t you play the most possessions that you could play? If you’re the best, defensively and offensively. Any time possessions are cut down, then a bad call or a missed shot and you got a chance to lose. But to me, if we get the possessions up here (holds arms far apart), to me statistically we’ve got a lot better chance to win.”

  1. losangelesfan - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Let’s roll!

  2. themagicfanguy - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Mike D is a step up from Mike B, but the lakers title hopes depend on Dwight giving it his absolute BEST effort. Since its Dwight… I’ll wait and see.

  3. mogogo1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    I still think it was Brown’s announcing that Metta was going to start playing some 2 (and thus apparently banishing Meeks to the end of the bench) that was the Jump the Shark moment. You’ve got a shooter who’s proven he can hit 40% of his threes. Might just come in handy spacing out the court sometime during the season and especially come the playoffs…might not want to destroy the guy’s confidence just a couple games into the season…but Brown was too busy looking at the trees to see the forest.

  4. jerdogthompson - Nov 15, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Well played Mikey.

    If you don’t go 8-2 the next 10 I’m firmly entrenched in the belief that Kobe will become the next coach. Only after you have been pepper sprayed & had your life threatened via twitter

    Signed,
    Magic Johnson

  5. lakerluver - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    @magicfanguy
    Dwight’s not even healthy yet and he’s playing all star level ball. He’s going to have a monster season!…Man, I can’t wait for the season to start! Game 1 is Sunday! Can’t wait!!!

  6. lakerluver - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I love Magic, and always will. But he needs to take Kobe’s advice and shut up!! If I recall correctly Magic was one of those who were clamoring for Riley to replace Spo. My point is no one knows how this will turn out. As my friend above said, “Lets roll”!!!

  7. paulhargis53 - Nov 15, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Who cares how well Howard is playing?
    The freaking bench is atrocious. They average like 15 points a game.

    It’s been their achilles heel 2 years running and will continue to be. Starters averaging 33-38 minutes a game = early exit again.

    Lakerslurper can’t wait, his buttplug has been in for 3 days now, hasn’t it sweetie?

    • blueintown - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      The Lakers bench averages around 20.5 per game. But that does not matter.

      The Heat won the championship with the third worst scoring bench in the NBA last year. It was second worst in the East behind only the Celtics. The teams with the two worst benches in the Eastern conference played for the right to go to the finals last year. Bench does not matter. If the Lakers are going to win, it’s going to be on the backs of Bryant, Howard, Nash, and Gasol. If the Celtics win, it is going to be on the backs of Rondo, Garnett, and Pierce. If the Clippers win, it is going to be on the backs of Paul and Griffin. Why is this so damn difficult to acknowledge?

      • bozosforall - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:21 AM

        Poor Pudhummer53…pretty soon his beloved Puh C’s will sink to the bottom of the Leastern Conference, just like the Red Sox have.

  8. phreakin - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Best thing the Lakers should be thankful for with Mike? He doesn’t like a bench. He won’t use a bench. And thankfully the Lakers don’t either.

  9. jerdogthompson - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Dull dull dull

    If anyone watched the interview with Mikey pre Spurs he basically said that “Kobe is the reason I got the job”. Despicable freaking despicable.

    The FO is a mess, the team is a mess. Nuff said.

  10. paulhargis53 - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    bleweveryoneintown:

    Teams go 9 deep in the playoffs. You aren’t watching if you think otherwise.

    Of course the stars will carry those teams, that’s not my argument.
    You need players on the bench that are going to maintain the lead and play quality minutes. It’s common sense.

    When 4/5 starters are 32-39 years old and your center is recovering from back surgery and you’re playing them 33-38mpg 10 games in, well good luck.

    The lakers bench sucks, plain and simple. If you think they can just ride the starters, well you’re about as smart as lakerluver.

    Barrier, Norris, Turiaf etc. all saw quality minutes in the playoffs.
    The Celtics went 10 deep for Gods sake.

    You aren’t very smart saying a bench doesn’t matter, not smart at all.

    • blueintown - Nov 15, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      I see what you did with the name there. Your teachers must be so proud.

      Saying the Lakers suck because their bench is terrible is a bit like saying the ’96 Bulls sucked because they were last in the league in blocked shots. It’s true, they were a terrible shot-blocking squad, but they made up for it by having three of the greatest players in the history of the f*cking game. When M.J. needed a rest, Scottie and Rodman were able to keep it afloat surrounded by the likes of Luc Longley, Ron Harper, and Steve Kerr. Not exactly world beaters. Even better, ask the current Bulls how depth has worked out for them. When Chris Bosh went down, the Heat were able to absorb that loss not based on Ronnie Turiaf’s ten minutes per game, but by relying on what got them there: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. This isn’t that difficult. And you know it.

      • davidly - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

        Bad comparison. Not having a lot of blocked shots is not the same as being a bad shot blocking team. Having a non-productive bench, on the other hand, has a direct correlation to the quality of the team as a whole.

        The ’96 Bulls had a great bench. First, they had the Sixth Man of the Year in ’96. Steve Kerr just happens to have the best career 3pt. percentage in the history of the NBA. As far as Luc Longley goes, he averaged 26.5 minutes a game as a starter and shared minutes with two, sometimes three other centers.

      • blueintown - Nov 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        First, not having a lot of blocked shots is the very definition of being a bad shot blocking team. That’s not to say they were a bad defensive team, clearly they are one of the elite defensive teams of all time. There are multiple components to being an effective defense. But if you’re last in the league at blocked shots, you are definitively bad at blocking shots.

        Second, my issue is not good benches versus bad benches. A bench is a bench. If we’re ranking causes of a championship in 1996, bench comes in near or at the bottom. They did perform adequately, I acknowledge that. But does anyone think that the ’96 Bulls would be ringless without Steve Kerr? Or Luc Longley? Or even Toni Kukoc? It’s the same with the Lakers (or any other elite squad). A bench simply can’t be terrible, which their bench is not. The Lakers will be able to survive in increments with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol playing along side the likes of Blake, Jamison, and Meeks.

      • davidly - Nov 21, 2012 at 8:34 AM

        But if you’re last in the league at blocked shots, you are definitively bad at blocking shots.

        Precisely and exactly and quite simply wrong. When the team is so dominant on both ends of the floor, including many defensive categories, the opportunity to block shots decreases, which would then lead to fewer blocked shots. It is not like their is a statistical category “opportunity to block a shot missed”.

        Teams that lead the league in blocked shots can just as likely be the worst defensive teams at that given time, in that they are a team that sees their opposition breaking down perimeter defense and taking shots in the paint too many times down the floor.

        As far as how well Chicago might have done without Kukoc, Kerr, and Longley is an open question, whether you choose to believe it or not. You have to evaluate what the individuals mean to the entire team over the course of the season AND in crucial moments in crucial games. The top seven mentioned from that entire team were crucial–each to the other: Crucial minutes played, crucial bench production, crucial clutch shots, the list goes on.

        That the opposing teams couldn’t ignore Kerr or Kukoc in defensive schemes was crucial to several victories. Quite simply: the ’96 Bulls bench was a significant contributing factor to a record breaking season. But remember also: The only won the finals 4-2. Take away the bench and all that they did with and without certain starters on the floor, and you got a whole different ballgame.

      • blueintown - Nov 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        False. There is a distinct difference between shot-blocking prowess and efficiency with which a team blocks shots. Shot blocking was not a refined skill of anyone on that Bulls roster. A roster full of players – most of whom had served time with other squads previously – that lacks shot blockers is, by definition, not a good shot-blocking team. They weren’t good shot blockers before they played for the Bulls, they weren’t good shot blockers after they played for the Bulls. Statistics demonstrate this across the board. I’m not saying they weren’t a good defensive teams, I’m not even saying they didn’t successfully alter shots. They just didn’t block shots.

        Of course substituting that bench for any other bench is an open question. So answer it. Do you believe the ’96 Bulls win the NBA championship if that bench is substituted for, say, Miami’s current bench? Or the Lakers’ current bench? Or any bench in the history of the league? Is there a bench that has ever been so inept that it would stop the ’96 Bulls from winning the title?

  11. gbr437 - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:20 AM

    Wheres andrew goudelock? I mean we havent seen or heard from this guybever since he showed flashes during 2011 season. He was pretty good coming off the bench. We sure could use him now with D’antoni taking over. Lakers need all the bench firepower they can muster.

    • paleihe - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:47 AM

      The Lakers already waived him.

  12. pricejustin24 - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    How bout a pau gasol / amare trade?? … Lakes will throw in Steve Blake. Get r done

    • paleihe - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:51 AM

      The Lakers just got rid of a center with a history of knee problems. Now you want to replace the most skilled big man in the game for a guy with a history of knee problems? LOL.

      I’d take Pau all day over Amare.

  13. pricejustin24 - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Uh huh.

  14. pricejustin24 - Nov 16, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Amare doesn’t fit with the Knicks… Pao has worn his welcome put in LA. Any real lakers fan can tell you that. D’antoni loves amare and I think it would be a great fit. Maybe I’m just really excited about getting rid of those dumb looks pao gives his teammates, the crowd, the refs all game long. I’d trade him for a bag of basketballs is what I’m really saying. Risk vs reward. Amare could be so huge in that offense and pao launching 3′s and trying to fight Dwight for rebounds is not the way to go. Pao is out in LA.

    • bozosforall - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:24 AM

      Amare is a cancer. No thanks.

      • eerock41 - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        Howard was the biggest piece of cancer on any team last year, but your ok with that. I cant wait till he starts pulling the same crap he pulled in Orlando in LA, see how fast the media and fans turn on him.

      • bozosforall - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:09 PM

        I’m OK with the fact that Howard is on board with the Lakers’ desire to win. I couldn’t care less what happened last year in Orlando. Go cry somewhere else, loser.

  15. pricejustin24 - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    7 seconds or less- watch a laker game and count how many times pau crosses the halfcourt line under 7 seconds. It’s a joke thinking that loafer will thrive in D’s system… Ok here’s the trade. Pau and Steve Blake for Amare and Ronnie Brewer. Cut duhon and then re-sign goudelock. Done. Championship.

  16. paleihe - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    Cause having two seven footers is a bad thing? One that can pass, rebound, play D, and hit an open 15 – 20 footer is a bad fight with Dwight Howard? No, I don’t think so.

    And “real” Laker fans tend to be shortsighted idiots. I can say that, cause I’m apparently a fake Laker fan.

    Amare isn”t as good, smart, or skilled as Pau. He’s been in the league about 10 years and just decided that he needed to work on his post moves? You may be frustrated with Pau, but he is awesome.

  17. omniusprime - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Talk is cheap DumbToni and Kurt Helin, I won’t be impressed with Dumbtoni until the Lakers win a championship in June. Anything less than a championship in June must mean that DumbToni gets tossed out of town with his tail between his legs. That and Kurt Helin must stop being a sports pundit and has to go out and get a real job doing real work requiring real intelligence that will actually benefit people. As the saying goes simple things amuse simple minds and Kurt you let yourself be amused too easily with so many things.

    I Want Phil Jackson for Laker Coach!!!

  18. paulhargis53 - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    blue: I never said the lakers sucked. I said they would have an early exit from the playoffs.
    You’re actually comparing this team to the 72-10 Bulls?! Really?
    Rodman, Pippen and Jordan were all 3, All defensive 1st team. Howard is the only defender worthwhile.
    Your feeble argument left Kukoc out of the mix, how convenient.
    I’d take Kukoc,Kerr, Buechler and Brown over Jamison, Meeks, Hill and Morris any day of the week, twice on Sunday.

    I’m going to leave you to tour delusions.
    Read up on that Bulls team. The bench played a big part in that 87-13 season.

    A good bench is a must for a title team. For you to state otherwise is showing willful ignorance.

    I’ve seen this argument from you before, so I’m going to let you have the last word, you’re being obtuse and I’m not going to waste anymore time showing you how very wrong you are. Flame on, flamer.

    • ludachrisgsx - Nov 16, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      I agree that the Lakers bench production has been terrible, but I don’t think they have a terrible bench (especially compared to the one last year). Maybe not the most talented, but these guys are serviceable. They brought in some guys that were playing pretty well on other teams last season. I would argue they simply haven’t been put in the best position to contribute to this team yet. What was Jamison’s scoring average last season? What was Meeks’ shooting percentage the last couple seasons? As bad as they’ve been performing, they aren’t bad players. I think their play has been a reflection of how poorly Brown was coaching. It wasn’t necessarily the system that Brown was pushing on the starters that made him bad for this team, it was his inability to get production out of the role players.

      Everyone is talking so much about how D’Antoni’s system will affect Howard and the starters. I think his impact on the second unit will be far more important. The starters have shown that they can play together even when making it up as they go since Brown was fired. It’s the bench that needs some direction. They’ve got some young players that can run, they just need to figure out how to use them better. I tend to think the new Mike will improve the bench a bit. Whether or not he can improve them enough to get passed the first round, that’s the big question.

    • blueintown - Nov 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      Dude. You’ve got to calm down. It’s a discussion about basketball. You can drop the homoerotic references. I’m not comparing the Lakers to the ’96 Bulls. I’m exemplifying value (or lack) of bench. Replace Kukoc, Kerr, Buechler and Brown (the last two you’re realllly reaching on, but I admit to being huge fans of both of them, regardless of their irrelevance) with the current incarnation of the Lakers bench, and what happens to the ’96 Bulls? Nothing. Nothing at all. They still steamroll to the championship. A benches roll is to spell the starters. This is why teams like Boston and Miami are able to succeed.

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