In the past 72 hours, this Lakers’ coaching saga went haywire. Mike Brown got the five-game shaft, Phil Jackson entered the fray and seemed to have things sewn up, only to have Mike D’Antoni swoop in and scoop the league’s most prestigious gig (even though he flamed out in his stint with the league’s second most prestigious coaching gig). There’s a lot of information that we’ve yet to learn about how all this went down. In the interim – in pseudo-honor of D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” offense – I have seven off-the-cuff questions surrounding this circus.
What if this is about Jeanie Buss?: I got sisters, Jim. I know how comically proprietary brothers can be, fam. I kid. But seriously, I've always wondered exactly how Jeanie factors into the Phil-Lakers relationship. I find it hard to believe her romance with PJ is no factor at all. I hope that Jim Buss is far less petty than I am, because if I have a chilly relationship with one of my sisters' main squeezes, I'm not re-hiring dude to come clean up my mess after I had to dead my "I'm runnin' things" hire.
Don't you love when Magic weighs in on the Lakers these days?: Seriously – don't you, though? Put 'em on Front Street, Mag'...
I'd like to address some rumors related to my role in the firing of Mike Brown.I had NO conversations w/ Dr. Buss, Jim Buss or Mitch.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 12, 2012
If I was involved w/ the firing of Mike Brown, I would own it like I did w/ Paul Westhead.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 12, 2012
D'Antoni at $4 million a year?: He was clocking $6 million a year with the Knicks. This gig is every bit as high-profile/pressure. The three-year, $12 million contract the Lakers inked him to was on the cheap. Seems tactical. As a contrast to Phil, D'Antoni played the "cheap with no ego" move deftly.
What kind of "control" was Phil actually requesting?: I think Phil has a similar amount of confidence in Mitch Kupchak's managerial abilities as does the rest of the sports world. Mitch gets it done. So, I doubt Phil wanted some Greg Popovich/Bill Parcells kind of input on personnel. I bet his "control" requests amounted to him telling Jim, "Stay outta my business, friendo."
Is Howard really that great of a defender?: Kevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler are great post/paint defenders. Joakim Noah and Anderson Varejao are great post/apint defenders. These guys are vocal and heady. I always thought Howard got away with being a subpar defender, because he was so active and athletic. Pau Gasol is heady, but neither active nor athletic. So, this Twin Tower thing the Lakers have going might not be the defensive eraser for a D’Antoni/ancient-backcourt defense. I loved the oral history of the Houston Rockets that ran on Grantland , last week. When talking about the defensive havoc that Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson set on opponents, Robert Reid had this anecdote:
The late, great Dennis Johnson, one time he brought the ball up to half court and I opened up the gate. He said, "Reid, what are you doing? You ain't going to play no defense?" I said, "Look down there. Do you feel lucky?"
Speaking of opening up gates – what is the best athletic comparison for Kobe and Nash?: It'd be like if a 2007 Barry Bonds and a 2011 Manny Ramirez couldn't play DH and had to play in the outfield.
And, lastly…was D'Antoni really Kobe's idol growing up?: Prove it Kob…grow one of those old D’Antoni mustachios