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D’Antoni apologizes for saying frustrated Lakers fans should ‘find another team to root for’

Dec 24, 2013, 8:21 PM EDT

Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni announces he is unable to coach his new team against the Rockets, due to recovery from a knee operation, in Los Angeles Reuters

After the Lakers lost in blowout fashion in Phoenix on Monday, Mike D’Antoni wasn’t in the mood to placate those who might be frustrated with the team’s recent results.

L.A. has been ravaged by injuries, of course, and without so many key pieces in place — especially at the guard spots — there was no chance of beating a cohesive Suns squad that features one of the game’s top backcourt tandems in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.

After the 27-point loss, D’Antoni answered a question about what he would say to frustrated Lakers fans by responding that they “should find another team to root for.” The context was that D’Antoni really likes this group of guys, and believes they’re giving their all on a nightly basis. But if the talent’s not there, it’s not there — so you know what you can do with that so-called frustration.

Obviously, that didn’t sit well at all with the passionate and loyal core of the Lakers fan base. A day later, D’Antoni was a bit calmer, and apologized for his offhand remark.

From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

“I was an idiot last night,” said D’Antoni after the Lakers walkthrough on Tuesday, in preparation for their Christmas Day game against the Miami Heat.  “I was out of my mind. I was ticked off. We didn’t play well … so I said some stuff I shouldn’t have. That’s me. I just made a mistake.”

D’Antoni tried to clarify what he meant with his comments, while acknowledging he didn’t deliver the message as intended.

“We’ve got a team that is overachieving. We have a lot of injuries and we’re in a tough state right now. We need everybody to be pulling with us. It’s going to take the whole village to get this done,” he said. “That was the meaning, I just said it wrong. It came out wrong because I was agitated. I apologize.”

It was clear the moment that D’Antoni made the remark that it was going to ignite a firestorm among Lakers fans everywhere, largely because they see him as an unsuccessful outsider to the organization whose methods haven’t come close to resulting in meeting the team’s expectations.

This year’s team has actually overachieved considering the injuries, and the players on the roster have for the most part produced in D’Antoni’s system. If the Lakers can manage to remain competitive and continue to win more than expected, all will eventually be forgiven. But the coach of a team under .500 shouldn’t be doing anything to agitate the fan base, and whether team PR tapped him on the shoulder or whether he came to the conclusion himself, issuing the full mea culpa a day later was absolutely the proper response.

  1. mackcarrington - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    D’Antoni needs to take advantage of the “cool down” period immediately after a game. He needs to maybe have a beer or two
    and chill before he talks to the media. Especially after a blowout loss.
    On the other hand, it’s a good thing that this guy is feeling the pressure of championship expectations. He just needs to learn how to handle them better.

  2. 950003cups - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Lol!! That didn’t take long.

    The Lakers fans need to realize the reality of the situation which is that their talent is not what it once was. They’re a lot older and slower. Their draft picks have been late for a while. There’s a reason Mike D was brought in. The team couldn’t buy a win. It’s not all on him.

    • dinofrank60 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:10 PM

      I thought they were younger and more athletic.

    • stadix093 - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      What the hell are you talking about? Last years team was older and slower. It’s not about fan expectations, we know they suck. I’m just happy they’re more fun to watch this year. A true fan loves their team in good times and bad, that’s why everyone was pissed he said it.

    • spthegr8 - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:13 AM

      @95000
      I think most of the Laker faithful realize our talent isn’t what it use too be but, you are right, D’Antoni was brought in for a reason. We have an INCOMPETENT owner!!!!! SMFH!!!!

  3. stayhigh_247 - Dec 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Whatever dude, there’s no excuse for that. Last time I checked those same fans give him a lavish lifestyle. Put a better product on the court or deal with the criticism. You’re not coaching the Bucks, or the Magic this is LA. He just showed the world that he’s an idiot. I wouldn’t fire him because of losses linked to all the injuries, thats not on him. But I would fire him for telling my customers to go find a better product. The Lakers need to be realistic and go find themselves a Brad Stevens and start all over. Im not sold on him being such a great coach, because how can you not find a way to use Pau effectively? Great coaches use whats in front of them

  4. andreweac - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Jerry Jones and his family > Buss family.

    Who knew nepotism would end up in tragedy?

  5. redbaronx - Dec 24, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    More proof D’Antoni shouldn’t be coaching. Just like he quit on the Knicks. He is weak.

  6. muhangis - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    As a Laker fan, I agree the Lakers have overachieved this year. Not ashamed to say it, maybe our best bet is to tank. We need that huge franchise player, like Kobe and the multitude of others, for the future! And it’s available in this years draft. This season is lost… Really what is the best that we can hope for?

  7. muhangis - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    I’d rather us suck bad for a couple of years, than to be stuck in mediocrity for the next ten!

    • spthegr8 - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      @Muhangis
      AMEN too that!!!

  8. vikesdynasty - Dec 24, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    I’m a twolves fan and I can’t stand this guy. I can’t wait til he’s fired. I almost feel sorry for LA

  9. 00maltliquor - Dec 25, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    Who didn’t see this coming!?

    It’s all good Mike, I know what you meant. But you just KNOOOW this “my bad” came from the pressure of Lakers ownership/management yelling at him like, “what the hell are you doing Mike, are you craaazy!?”

  10. davidly - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:31 AM

    firestorm among Laker fans = tweeting in traffic and texting on the beach

  11. zacksdad - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:58 AM

    So let me get this straight about Mike D’Antoni.

    1. Pau Gasol does like him.
    2. Antawn Jamison does not like him.
    3. Dwight Howard does not like him.
    4. Chris Kaman does not like him.
    5. Kobe Bryant does not respect him, tells the players not to listen to the coach but himself.
    6. Jeanie Buss does not like him.
    7. Phil Jackson thought he was the wrong coach for Dwight Howard and told Dwight this.
    8. The fans do not like him.
    9. He does not like the fans.

    But Jimmie Buss keeps him. The only conclusion I can come to is Jimmie and D’Antoni have the same type of relationship as Phil and Jeanie.

    • dinofrank60 - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      Lol!!
      I am surprised that Jim Buss didn’t say what D’Antoni said. I’ve been waiting for Buss to tell Lakers fans to “chill and cut us some slack. We gave you ten championships, now you need to park it for a bit, while we get it together again. You owe us that.”
      That would really go over in LA!!!

    • belleby123 - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      Let’s face it, with guys like George Karl and Stan Van Gundy out of jobs, the NBA has shot itself in the wiener by allowing players to whine about coaches like this. They are professional athletes, and yet the more money they get paid the less professional they are. There are people making minimum wage–not enough to live on–who have to suck it up and take crap at their jobs, but these divas get paid millions, drive Lamborghinis and live mansions, all the while whining that their coaches are crappy. Why pay coaches at all? Pay all the money to the players and let them coach themselves. Let’s see how the fans take to that level of play.

  12. cubb1 - Dec 25, 2013 at 5:43 AM

    My Christmas wish… The Lakers give D’Antoni a 10 year contract extension.

  13. omniusprime - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    I’m already ahead of the game as I am not rooting for the Lakers until Dumbtoni, Trash Nash and Steve Flake leave. I hope the heatstroke crush the stinking Lakers today, I won’t bother watching the slime ball NBA today no matter what. Where the heck did the Lakers – Celtics Christmas game go? That’s the only game worth watching.

    Sorry Dumbtoni but a lot of us Laker fans have jumped ship and won’t come back until you’re gone. Stinking jerky boy jimmie is totally clueless brining in such garbage like Dumbtoni. The day you’re fired is the day Laker fans rejoice that perhaps the clueless buss punk will listen to good advice about hiring a coach that his intelligent Dad, the dearly departed Dr. Jerry Buss, would have hired.

    So suck on this Dumbtoni, you’re reviled in Laker Nation and so is anyone who defends this worthless piece of sewage. Rest assured we’ll continue to take our frustrations out on you until you leave in disgrace.

    Fire Dumbtoni! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake! Keep Pau Gasol!

  14. addict2sport - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    D’bag

  15. fatheruburu - Dec 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    13-15 or 13-16 is not that bad considering the talent/injuries for the roster. The last two losses came to an expected playoff team (Warriors) and a surprisingly improved young squad (Suns). The real question is: are the Lakers better off just going into the tank or continuing to hover around .500? I think we all know the answer to that one.

  16. 1historian - Dec 25, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Lakers’ fans are spoiled, as in spoiled brats, and every time we members of the gum-chewing public (thanks Gus Duffy) who are lucky enough not to live in California watch another Lakers’ loss on their home court interspersed with shots of various ‘celebrities’ watching the proceedings wearing their ‘see and be seen’ gear, we give thanks until it becomes too boring to watch any more and we just turn it all off.

    My “I Hate L.A.” t-shirt is now 27 years old.

    And counting.

    FYI – I am a Celtics’ fan.

    • dinofrank60 - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      My condolences…

    • miguel3557 - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      1histo,

      During months like this, I give thanks that I live in sunny, warm California, thinking about how fortunate I am not to be digging my car out of snow, not to be clearing pathways to my house several times a day, and not having to be constantly shivering as I try to avoid slipping while walking down the street, ducking into doorways to escape the frigid, howling wind of the East.

      I like Beantown when it’s warmer, though, and I really loved Auerbach’s Celtics.

    • cornbreadbbqred - Dec 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      You should think about becoming a Clippers fan, so I could smell you slightly less.

    • asimonetti88 - Dec 25, 2013 at 5:48 PM

      I give thanks for not being miserable and preferring to focus on the positive in life instead of spending all my time hating others.

    • ireti02 - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      So LA fans are “spoiled” but the Celtics aren’t? Don’t you guys have the most NBA titles in the league? Didn’t you guys have Pierce, Allen, Rondo, Garnett, and Davis on one damn team? The only reason you don’t like LA is because a) you’re in the cold for most of the year (unlike La where we get this thing known as heat) b) Allen left the Celtics without a second thought, Pierce and Garnett (your all stars) got traded for some “make it or break it players” c) Doc Rivers gladly got released out of his contract, d) you have a 12-17 record and are in the worst conference ( where being 12-17 can actually get you a playoff spot) or e) Rondo might leave when his contract’s up

      so which one is it?

  17. miguel3557 - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Why do so many athletes and coaches wind up backtracking so much? Why do they open their mouths when they’re emotional and say so many stupid things that they regret saying later and then try to put a spin on it? D’Antoni just came out and said he was crazy, but I’m so tired of the standard “I’m an emotional player so I ______.” For the most part, they’re grown men who lack the capacity to express themselves like adults, people who hide behind childish explanations of why they said what they said or, worse, how they were misinterpreted.

    I say to these guys, “Grow up and think before you talk. Act like real men instead of schoolyard bullies.”

  18. cornbreadbbqred - Dec 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    The Butt Tweazer had better have damn sure apologized. He wasn’t the right coach even if everybody stayed healthy. Does he want to hear “We want Phil” ring in the rafters of Staples again anytime soon? Trade him back to the Knicks for Tyson Chandler, and bring Byron Scott from the broadcast booth. I am sure he could do a better job off the bat than this Bozo. Jimbo, nice on paper, but please call it? Shuffle the deck and reload.

  19. metalhead65 - Dec 26, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    just once I would like a athlete or coach to stand by something they said rather than issue a phony apology the next day. whatever reason you said what you did just own up to it and move on. what is wrong with showing frustration with the fair weather fans of la la land? maybe it’s just me me but I like knowing players and coaches are human and not just robots.

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