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Mike D’Antoni to Debut with Lakers on Friday

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Just when you thought the Lakers were courting future Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson as the new play-caller for Kobe Bryant and company, Los Angeles pulled the rug from underneath him and gave the job to former New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni to debut Friday against the Phoenix Suns.

Per New York Daily News, D’Antoni revealed that he was surprised by the Lakers’ decision to replace Mike Brown in Los Angeles  He thought all along it was Jackson’s job to lose.  And the surprise didn’t just shake D’Antoni.

In an interview with LATimes.com, he was quickly reminded of how tough the Lakers’ faithful can be.

“Got bad news for you, Mike,” T.J. Simers of the LA-based newspaper said in a phone interview with D’Antoni.  “You’re losing 73% to 11% to Phil Jackson in a poll of who people would like to see coaching the Lakers.”

D’Antoni laughed.  “I’ve got some really close friends who are Laker fans and they were disappointed I got the job,” D’Antoni said, per the LATimes.com.

Since D’Antoni agreed to take the job in Los Angeles, there has been plenty of speculation of whether he can lead the Lakers to another NBA title.  He definitely has the track-record, having coached Steve Nash in Phoenix, where he won back-to-back NBA MVP awards (2004-05, 2005-06) and lead the Suns to four consecutive 54+ win seasons.

“To get one more chance to have him run the thing the way he did for me before (in Phoenix), well, that’s the kind of thing you  never think is going to happen.  But now it has,” D’Antoni told the Daily News.

Since then, D’Antoni’s resume of accomplishments have been meager at best.  He resigned last March before the Knicks made the playoffs, combining for one playoff appearance in the last three years.  But if there’s one thing to be sure of, it’s that the Lakers don’t lack the same kind of talent the Suns and Knicks were without in the past few years.  In fact, it could be the single best team ever (on paper).  With a two-time MVP, 14-time All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year all sharing a jersey, it’s hard not to tab the Lakers as the frontrunners in the West.

We could very well be in for one hell of a NBA Finals matchup with the stars of the Miami Heat and Lakers aligning in the battle for NBA supremacy come April.

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