D’Antoni A Confidence Builder? Or Just More Fun To Play For?

What’s being portrayed and psychoanalyzed as a difference in coaching temperaments in Los Angeles these days might, in fact, relate to something much simpler.

All the talk comparing and contrasting new Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni with predecessor Mike Brown and with gold standard Phil Jackson might be off the mark, as far it relates to personalities and the ability to lead and inspire men. It might be as basic as D’Antoni being seen as the relief valve from the early-season disappointments under Brown ā€“ and thus, having more in common with Jackson’s happy times, even if the new guy hasn’t coached in The Finals or won anyone even one ring.

As for the warm embrace D’Antoni has gotten from the Lakers players, it might be even more simple than that: offense vs. defense.

Coaching, teaching and playing defense, let’s face it, has a negative orientation to it. It’s all about avoiding bad results, rather than actively creating good ones. There hasn’t been a shutout yet in the NBA but that remains an ideal for a lot of defensive-minded coaches, who can nitpick a botched close-out or a bad route around a screen even when the shots don’t drop.

Offense is different. Players love scoring and coaches who craft their reputations there can stroll into a dysfunctional situation (such as the Lakers) and be welcomed with open arms. By definition, they’re preaching fun vs. hard work and active, positive rewards every time the ball goes through the net.

From the inside, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register focuses more on confidence and leader-of-men stuff:

Kobe Bryant put all three coaches in context recently by saying there is one broad commonality between D’Antoni and Jackson (and, by implication, not Brown):

Bryant said both D’Antoni and Jackson are skilled in their ways of “not micro-managing the team.”

Brown believed just as strongly in his basic defensive blueprint as D’Antoni does in his offensive one, but Brown’s overall confidence in what he knew just didn’t translate into trust in him from his players. D’Antoni might sound like a slick salesman at times, but you know that he totally believes in his product.

It’s just the latest demonstration of how the most important thing about coaching a professional sports team is being able to inspire.

The Lakers, even before [Steve] Nash unveils his magic act, believe in what D’Antoni believes. Carmelo Anthony aside, it’s the way it has always been for D’Antoni and all the past players he has empowered.

That is because he empowers by trusting. There is nothing freer than a basketball bird with a license to shoot and unafraid of getting benched for a mistake ā€” two of D’Antoni’s core principles.

We already see it just in the way Metta World Peace is more certain of himself, Pau Gasol is more decisive than in years, Jodie Meeks is more comfortable in his own skin and [Darius] Morris is more youthful-energy infusion than Devin Ebanks ever was despite all that playing time Brown gave him.

From the outside, though, this might be as simple as being freed up from Mom or Dad and their incessant demands to eat vegetables. It’s always more fun to have a sleepover at Uncle Mike’s, where the fridge is stocked with ice cream and pop and no one says a word about bedtime.

24 Comments

  1. freddy says:

    the lakers are way too old to play the run and gun fast style offense that Dā€™t wants and when they do try, it further exposes their horrible transition defense. that formula will not even get them out of the first round of the playoffs, if they get that far. our personnel need to run a more deliberate phil like triangle, and run when the opportunity presents itself.

  2. JoheikeMapa says:

    RIP LAKERS THIS SEASON PROMISE…… THE LAKERS SHOULD TRY BRIAN SHAW ATLEAST NEW FACE AS HEAD COACH….

  3. vash says:

    give a contract to RUDY FERNANDEZ,,, fire steve blake and jodi meeks because they are the bad omen of the team..

  4. jvitech says:

    They lost again against Memphis. 2 more straight losses and the chant of WE WANT PHIL, will be heard by the LAL Management again…..

    • I AGREE BUT WE NEED TO GIVE MD A CHANCE TO PROVE HIMSELF..HIRING A GOOD COACH ISNT GOING TO FIX OUT PROBLEM AS A UNIT..ITS THE PLAYERS BEING ABLE TO TRUST EACH OTHER AND PLAY T-E-A-M BASKETBALL

    • JoheikeMapa says:

      I WAS REALLY DISAPPOINTED WITH THAT LOST TO MEMPHIES, kOBE PLAYED WELL BUT NO SUPPORT FROM HOWARD AND GASUL…….. RIP LAKERS THIS SEASON…

  5. RED says:

    This is a reply to KD.

    Yes the Heat have a talented team but it takes a great coach to get that team to work together to win a championship. The Lakers first five games of the season are a good example of what a bad coach can do too a talented teaam. I believe there record under coach brown was 1-4 and now with a different (better) coach in place they are playing better basketball. My point is that Coach “SPO” must be a great caoch because he has taken all those EGOs and blended them together into a championship team. It is not ALL about talent. The coach has alot to do with winning and losing even with the worlds greatest players on the team.

  6. Sean says:

    Once Nash is back, Dwight will get more looks. They are going to pick’n roll everybody to death. Kobe will also get up a ton of open looks. Once the chemistry starts to manifest, this is going to the scary team that everybody thought.

  7. Russ says:

    Once Nash is back and gets the run and gun offense going the Heat will have no chance! They have nobody that can handle Dwight Howard on the boards. RIP Heat.

    • Doc says:

      LOL, dream on . .they’ll be competitive, but will get run off the court in the playoffs.

      • freddy says:

        the lakers are way too old to play the run and gun fast style offense that D’t wants and when they do try, it further exposes their horrible transition defense. that formula will not even get them out of the first round of the playoffs, if they get that far. our personnel need to run a more deliberate phil like triangle, and run when the opportunity presents itself.

  8. TalksLogic says:

    Too bad fun doesn’t translate to championship. The players are having fun now, but once they get to the playoffs and the vets realize “oops, now we have to play defense, but we were too busy riding high” they’ll be sorry.

  9. rico says:

    need more firepower…q.rich,d.west,m.redd, d.fish..to give more 3point po off bench

  10. Game Time says:

    Howard shot the ball 4 times compared to Meeks 9 and Morris 5. That’s not goingto fly with Howard for long and is guranteed to cause more dysfunction.

  11. Memphis says:

    ????

  12. John Doe says:

    Just hope they can keep the excitement and energy up – so we have a fun year watching NBA.

  13. Floridian says:

    As a Miami Heat fan I always admired D’Antoni. I am not sure what happened in NY, but he is one of the best coached in NBA with European coaching experience. LA roster looks great on the paper but on the court. They can not compete with athletic fast teams unless D’Antoni enforce some mid level coaches like Spo to play half court game like Doc Rivers.

  14. Game Time says:

    Yep, Spo sure will be.