Another Chance For D’Antoni-Nash


HANG TIME SOUTHWEST –
 Hours after Weekend at Bernie’s and its star, interim Lakers coach Bernie Bickerstaff, set up for a limited showing in Lakerland, Kobe Bryant sat in front of a microphone, his arms folded. He spoke in a solemn voice as he reflected on the end of the 2011 playoffs, an embarrassing second-round thrashing by the Dallas Mavericks that sent him limping home without a sixth title and whisked a limping Phil Jackson into retirement clinging to his 11 rings.

“The one thing that’s always bothered me is that his last year I wasn’t able to give him my normal self because I was playing on one leg and it’s always eaten away at me,” Bryant lamented after Friday night’s victory over Golden State that came about 12 hours after the Lakers fired Mike Brown. “The last year of his career, I wasn’t able to give him everything I had. He’s too great of a coach to have had to go out that way.”

Maybe so. But it turns out P-Jax still isn’t walking through that door.

Mike D’Antoni is, and so is arguably a far better redemption story — the tortured tale of D’Antoni and Steve Nash and their improbable chance to chase down unfinished business in Tinseltown.

D’Antoni and Nash, after revolutionizing offensive basketball in seven seconds or less in Phoenix, are now reunited, as strange as it may be, in the gold and purple of the Lakers. D’Antoni, back after his flameout in post-Isiah New York. Nash, 38 and as strong-willed as ever. Together, they have a shot to make history and to shut up all the yammering cynics who claim D’Antoni’s style never could and never will win a championship in the NBA.

Critics crucify those Suns teams for being a sieve defensively, but the real truth is they weren’t all that bad. More than anything else, injuries and crummy luck prevented the pair from attaining the ultimate goal.

Shall we review:

In 2005, Joe Johnson fractured an orbital bone in the second round against the Mavericks. Phoenix won the series and Johnson returned during the West finals, but the Suns couldn’t handle San Antonio, which went on to win its second of three titles in the decade.

In 2006, the Suns advanced to the West finals without Amar’e Stoudemire (knee injury) and lost in six games to the Mavericks.

Still, the hardest one to reconcile is 2007, the year that looked to have title team written all over it, until …

Game 1 of the second round against the Spurs. Who can forget the bloody nose? After crashing into Tony Parker‘s head late in the fourth quarter, Nash’s gashed nose, no matter the amount of gauze applied, wouldn’t stop bleeding, and Nash, with 31 points and eight assists at the time, couldn’t get back in. Phoenix lost a heartbreaker.

And then there was Game 4 in  San Antonio and the infamous Robert Horry hip-check. In the final minute, Horry’s body blow sent Nash, with 24 points and 15 assists, crashing into the scorer’s table followed by Nash’s teammates jumping off the bench in violation of NBA rules. The Suns won the game and evened the series, 2-2, but Stoudemire and Boris Diaw received by-the-book suspensions for Game 5, sidelining the Suns’ only power forwards.

Series over.

To top it all in 2008, Tim Duncan miraculously tossed in his only 3-pointer of the season to force double overtime in Game 1 of the first-round series. A game the Suns had all but won, stolen on the road, was lost.

Series over. Era over.

“I hate to pin it on breaks, but we did have some bad breaks. Every year something happened,” Nash would later tell ESPN’s Bill Simmons on his B.S. Report. “You can’t look back on that series and go, ‘if the suspensions didn’t happen we were through,’ but we were also at an all-time high. Diaw was playing at an exceptional level, Amare was great. We had a nice team around the main guys.”

So now comes another nice team — and what should be a far better defensive one — for D’Antoni and Nash to chase their dream. Sure, Phil and Kobe would have made a nice little story, a partnership three times over to go after one more title for the history books.

But D’Antoni and Nash, this improbable reunion, will be the ultimate run at redemption.

14 Comments

  1. lakers fan says:

    people act like we didn’t go to three championships in a row a few years ago and by the way jamison is a good bench guy so is steve blake and a few others……… Also note that as “slow” as we are in two of OKC’s wins over us they only won by 4 points combined….. and in one game kobe barely missed a last second three…. if the right coaching gets put into play we could win a championship the roster is good enough….. i do wish we had a third big guy however…

  2. marcel says:

    good move. I like it.

  3. B-B-Fan says:

    though i am glad about the choice, the lakers wanted p-jax, make no mistake about it, but the busses would never hand over control of the lakers to anyone, not even him.

  4. Zac says:

    “More than anything else, injuries and crummy luck prevented the pair from attaining the ultimate goal.”

    I strongly disagree with that.

  5. lol says:

    It’s always fun to see lakers struggle in desperation

  6. ANTOINE says:

    Steve still has some game left in him. Unfortunately, he can no longer defend the young point guards who play in this league, so his +/- won’t be as great. But he can make his teammates better, especially Pau, if he gets the hang of it. Most of all, if Mike runs his offense through Steve instead of Kobe, the Lakers will have a better chance of winning long, drawn out games. It will be up to Kobe to support his coach and his style of play. At his age, I don’t think Kobe will try to take over the helm and put the responsibility squarely on his own shoulders. He knows he can no longer do it on his own.

  7. Humbert says:

    Go lakers…… From the Philippines!

  8. justin joseph says:

    dantoni is the greatest coach on defense…..he is the best coash EVER!! HANDS DOWN!! all you guys dont know what you talk about, you cry babies, you dont even watch ball and are uneducated in the sport….oh and dwight howard is weak!! they should trade him for brook lopez!! much better prospect!!

  9. amitpal says:

    TThis story would have been great had nash been younger. At age 38 this isnt the same nash from before. I hope this works out for them but ss far as I can see it this roster wouldnt do good for antioni system. Not enough shooter. Although mike has always been able to spark struggling shooters like modie cheeks and jamison. Maybe mike can work on his magic again but back up point guard is going to be a big issue.

  10. mario says:

    Yes n it will be the same as the first run. No ring. Bad bad bad choice.

  11. LordP says:

    Mike deserves more respect..he is a very good coach..hysteric Lakers fans make me sick cause you’re cry babies…it’s time to face reality cause ShowTime is Ova’.

  12. justin joseph says:

    mike dantoni is OOOGLLLYYY!!!!

  13. basketball godz says:

    as much as i love steve nash and wish him nothing but success this lakers team has some serious issues. anyone that thinks they can win a championship with no bench and starters that are in the twillight of their careers is foolish. if anyone gets injured its OVER. nash can only play limited minutues because of his age. even if their offense is as explosive as the suns offense i dont see this team going through the athletic clippers or young and quick OKC. all that glitters is not gold.

    sorry lakers fans

  14. Miami says:

    Great move on LA part. D’Antoni is one of the best coaches in NBA with European basketball experience. I do not have much hope on slow LA team but D’Antoni may make some serious improvement and turn the table..