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Jerry West says criticism of Mike D’Antoni “grossly unfair”

Apr 24, 2013, 6:58 PM EDT

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

For a whole lot of Lakers fans (and some in the media) Mike D’Antoni has been the scapegoat for this Lakers season.

Jerry West doesn’t get that.

The current part owner of the Warriors went on Los Angeles radio — Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on ESPN LA 710 radio — and said D’Antoni hasn’t been treated fairly (as transcribed by Eric Pincus at the L.A. Times).

“I think there’s been far too much criticism of Mike [D’Antoni],” West said… “I think it’s grossly unfair to him. He inherited a team that had a bunch of injuries,” West said. “He inherited a team without a training camp. I think he’s done a nice job, to be honest with you.”

But what about the Lakers plan for Game 1, they should have thrown the ball inside more, right? Even Kobe was pounding that point on twitter.

“All these social media things about throw the ball inside — you have to be able make shots from the outside if you’re going to be able to make shots from the inside,” West said.

As usual, Jerry West is spot on here.

Mike D’Antoni started out behind the 8-Ball in Los Angeles because he’s not Phil Jackson, and that’s who most fans wanted (and whose style fit better with the current roster). But if that’s you’re beef, then take it up with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. They called D’Antoni (he just had his knee replaced, he wasn’t job hunting) and he accepted.

And he has greatly modified his style this season, by necessity but he has done it. The Lakers run “horns” sets, throw the ball into the post off the wing, they don’t do a lot of classic D’Antoni things.

But the Spurs took the easy stuff away in Game 1, fronting the post and making it hard on the Lakers. Welcome to the playoffs against a good team — you can’t beat them with your first option. It’s option two, three, four that have to step up. West is right, unless the Lakers knock down outside shots they will not be able to get space inside to operate.

We’ll see if the Lakers other options can step up.

  1. onbucky96 - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    He’s toast. Find a real story.

    • florida727 - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      Actually, no, he’s not toast. I’m not qualified to say whether or not he’s a “good coach” or not. But the one thing I know is coaches don’t get much credit when they win, and too much blame when they lose. The guy who should be on the hot seat is the GM. He’s the guy that gives you the tools to play with. And without the right tools, you are toast. Think Spoelstra is a “great” coach? Everyone thinks Phil Jackson is the second coming of God Himself. Got news for you: without Jordan/Pippen then Kobe/Shaq, he doesn’t have all “his” championships. Funny thing is, I’ve yet to see a coach commit a personal foul, brick a free throw, or turn the ball over. Face it, the NBA is and always will be, a players league. You want to watch a game where a coach plays a significant role? Switch to college and high school hoops.

      • Kurt Helin - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        I hate the “Phil Jackson couldn’t have won without MJ” argument because no coach, at any level, can win without elite talent. Nobody can coach the Bobcats to a winning record. Pitino and Calipari win because in part they can recruit so well. Same is true at the HS level. However, there are a lot of coaches who have had talent on the roster and have not been able to mold it into a winner. PJ could do that better than anyone. And that’s a real skill.

        Also, remember he got a team that started — STARTED — Kwame Brown and Smush Parker into the playoffs. That was his best coaching job.

  2. andrewproughcfe - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Yes – how could anyone win in the playoffs with twin 7-footers who are both perennial all-stars and future Hall-of-Famers, both of whom have experience helping lead teams to the finals?

    Couldn’t be done. D’Antoni must be a stinking genius for only losing by 12 in the first game.

    • zacksdad - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      And with these inside players try to make them outside shooters to fit his system. Yes he changed his system, only after it failed badly with this team.

  3. freudnumb - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Two all star bigs are not enough! You need a legitimate point guard! Nash is only a two-time league MVP …

  4. yousername1512 - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    You need an apostrophe on Lakers in “Lakers other options” in that last sentence. Possessive.

  5. stephenolszewski - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    And the firing of Mike Brown after 6 games isn’t fair but his offense is awful

  6. jimeejohnson - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    So what you’re saying is some Lakers fan who signs off all his posts with “fire Dumbtoni” is wrong? And you’re also saying the great Jerry West knows more about basketball than that “fire Dumbtoni” guy! I don’t think you’re lying.

  7. bucs24 - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    There not firing mike and Howard won’t resign

  8. rjlink1 - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    D’Antoni’s fine. Mike Brown was fine. No one was clamoring for Phil’s head when the Lakers won 45 and 42 games in those pre-Pau seasons. The Lakers have problems roster-wise and injury-wise. The coach is a convenient scapegoat.

    • herkulease - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:45 PM

      Phil had the rings to say “give me time”. In 2005-2006 the most they were below 500 was 3 games and 8 games. 2006/2007 they were never at or even below 500 at any point during the season and that included a stretch where they went a horrible 3-13.

      This year they quickly fell below 500 until game 28 when they finally back to 500. A Lost followed by a win then they tumbled around until game 60 and March before they would once again reach 500.

      The roster back then was junk. 05/06, it was Kobe(in his prime) a decent Odom with Smush Parker and Kwame brown as your starting PG and Center. Following year mostly the same except they had a rookie Bynum.

      Not saying Phil would’ve or could’ve magically fixed this year’s team given they had plenty of injuries but at least on paper they have a much better team this year then back then.

      • scalfor3 - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:10 AM

        Nah man, depth matters in the regular season, especially when your team goes through injuries. these lakers have NO depth.

      • badintent - Apr 25, 2013 at 3:56 AM

        Smush says”Ball don’t Lie”

  9. rodge1 - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    D’Antoni or Brown never had a chance. No team in the NBA can win with a D-League bench. Especially when their best player thinks they’re the only person allowed to shoot.

    • badintent - Apr 25, 2013 at 4:00 AM

      that’s an insult to the many fine players in the D league.The Lakers bench (Jordon Hill aside) looked like some Turkey league team.(sans AI) I do think Earl would be a started on most NBA teams.

  10. johnnyd1956 - Apr 24, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    I think the biggest indictment against him is not what the Lakers did with him but rather what the Knicks are doing without him.

    • badintent - Apr 25, 2013 at 4:01 AM

      Well played. Woodsen for Coach of the Year. Turned a .400 team to a .650.

  11. mogogo1 - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    I’ve always respected Jerry West and he’s right to a degree, but the injuries weren’t the biggest problem. Absolutely nobody in the front office or owner’s box spent even 5 minutes trying to figure out how these guys would play together, let alone how they’d play together within D’Antoni’s system. The thinking began and ended with the thought “Hey, he worked great with Nash in Phoenix!” He was ill-equipped to coach this roster, slow and unwilling to adjust, etc. The way the season turned out, they’d have been far better off with Mike Brown as the coach.

  12. 00maltliquor - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:56 AM

    What are your thoughts on this. omniusprime?………..

  13. gmsingh - Apr 25, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    “All these social media things about throw the ball inside — you have to be able make shots from the outside if you’re going to be able to make shots from the inside,” West said.

    As usual, Jerry West is spot on here.

    Really? How is scoring from the outside a prerequisite for scoring on the inside? If you’re going to make a statement like that, Kurt, you should explain it.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      If you’ve watched the games you’ve seen that the Spurs are fronting the post, providing weak side help and essentially packing their defense back in the paint taking away room for Duncan and Gasol to operate near the basket. They are daring the Lakers to beat them from the outside. Until the Lakers do the Spurs have no reason to adjust their defense.

      What’s more, the days of the “throw it into the post and let him go to work in isolation” that Shaq seems to dream of are gone. Because you can zone on defense now help is much closer to the post and that’s why teams with a good post player need to have shooters around him to space the floor out. Ala Dwight in Orlando.

      • gmsingh - Apr 26, 2013 at 8:21 AM

        I guess I’m not following you: unless you have a team full of Stephen Currys, the best defense is to force as many outside shots as possible. A dunk or a layup is a higher percentage shot than an 18 or 20 footer, right?

        Regarding your Shaq comment, I guess I’m biased. Being a Bulls fan, I watch Carlos Boozer do what you say nobody does anymore. But that’s just one guy.

  14. omniusprime - Apr 25, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I’ve admired Jerry West’s basketball acumen for decades but regarding Dumbtoni he’s totally wrong. The Lakers had the same training camp that every other team had, so Jerry is way wrong on that score. The Lakers had a lot of injuries but still they didn’t win when they were healthy early in the season, hence the bad 7 seed. Dumbtoni might have changed his loser small ball system but he did it way too late, only after he knew he was ready to be fired.

    Dumbtoni’s biggest failure has been on defense, he just doesn’t coach defense. Plus this nonsenses about having to make outside shots is bogus because the Lakers have been too lazy shooting too many threes instead of running real plays to work the ball inside where with Gasol and Howard they have a big advantage. Jerry has it backwards, you need to make your inside shots in order to get wide open outside looks, but outside shooting is always at a lower percentage than up close, that’s why it’s the big men who have the best shooting percentages.

    Dumbtoni needs to be fired so that the Lakers can find a much better coach, like Byron Scott or Kurt Rambis, someone who knows the Laker’s historical winning system of big men basketball. A shame that Jerry West turned traitor to the Laker organization so many years ago, we sure could use Jerry’s acumen on player personnel, look how he helped Memphis and Golden State.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash & Steve Flake!!! Get Well Soonest Kobe!!!

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Mike D’Antoni did not have a training camp, Mike Brown did with a radically different offensive system. I’m not going to bother to argue the rest of this idiocy.

  15. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I don’t buy it. D’Antoni knew the personnel before he signed on. No one FORCED him to take this job, and it was clear that a) Nash was not going to be the same guy he had in Phoenix seven or eight years ago, and b) this roster is NOT conducive to his style of play. Saying that he “altered his style” is not kudos to him, when he had no CHOICE. His style would not work even if they had all been healthy. He knew what he was getting into before he took the job. The blame is appropriate (upon him and Dumbo Jim Buss).

  16. kobeluver - Apr 25, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Traitor? Lmfao!

    I’m glad Kurt called you on your moronic thoughts prime. I find it humorous as hell.

    That you think you know more than Jerry West is ridiculous!

    Have any more Boston bombing jokes you’d like to throw out there you piece of garbage? You’re a poor excuse for a fan and a human being.

  17. kanemoney - Apr 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    You have to build a roster around mike, not the other way around. He was terrible in NY and now in LA because the teams don’t fit his mold. He is capable of coaching 1 way and its not a postseason winning way.

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