Lakers introduce D'Antoni as new head coach
LOS ANGELES (AFP) –
The Los Angeles Lakers formally introduced Mike D’Antoni on Thursday as their new head coach, replacing Mike Brown who was sacked just five games into the season.
The 61-year-old D’Antoni, who is still using crutches after recent knee surgery, immediately started talking about winning championships.
“I’m really happy to be here, excited,” D’Antoni said. “We’re built to win this year, this is not a project. We have a window and we’re going to try to get through it.”
The Lakers fired Brown after getting off to a 1-4 start. Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff then came in and Los Angeles won two out of the next three.
Bickerstaff was expected to coach the Lakers’ next game Friday against the Phoenix Suns. D’Antoni will likely take over behind the bench on Sunday.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make it a good decision,” D’Antoni said. “The reality of the day is I have a great group of guys.”
D’Antoni was asked about the NBA club’s controversial decision to choose him over Phil Jackson, who coached the Lakers to five NBA championships in two separate stints.
“I was shocked before, now that’s wearing off,” D’Antoni said. “Phil’s a great, great coach. The reality is, I’m extremely fortunate that we went this direction and I can’t wait to get started.”
D’Antoni delayed his arrival in Los Angeles because he is still recovering from knee replacement surgery on October 31. He said he is eager to start working full-time with Lakers stars like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.
“I don’t think Friday,” D’Antoni said of his first game at the helm. He said he didn’t really need crutches, but his knee was still “just a little stiff”.
“By this weekend I should be fine,” he said.
Jackson was considered a front-runner for the job, but the Lakers chose D’Antoni instead, saying they liked his high-tempo offensive style. But unlike Jackson, who has 11 rings, D’Antoni has yet to win a title.
D’Antoni has coached three teams previously, Denver, Phoenix and the New York Knicks.
In four seasons in New York he compiled a 121-167 record, resigning in March with the team just 18-24.
D’Antoni has an overall record of 388-339 in 10 NBA seasons as a head coach.