Mike D'Antoni must be the most sensitive head coach in the NBA. Many of his colleagues get chippy with the media, dabble in sarcasm and come off as generally miserable after a loss. (In Tom Thibodeau's case, this also applies to wins, practices, award ceremonies, Christmas mornings and wedding toasts.) But D'Antoni is on another level of insecurity.
His injured star Kobe Bryant tweeted some requests that the Lakers post up Pau Gasol in L.A.'s Game 1 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio on Sunday. Phil Jackson chimed in to commiserate with Kobe, telling him it'll "drive him bananas to watch the ship go down." It was such a thing that a reporter asked D'Antoni about Kobe's tweets after the game.
... and D'Antoni rolled his eyes, made a sarcastic comment and dismissed Bryant's advice by calling him "just a fan right now." Which, of course, Kobe took offense to with this tweet heard 'round the interwebs.
A fan?? Lol #microphonetalk— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 21, 2013
And now this will be a thing, and Mike D. and Kobe will have to stage a ridiculous photo where they point swords or axes at each other and make fun of us for thinking this is a thing, and hey, maybe we can get Dwight Howard involved too, because every drama session is more fun with Dwight.
In the end, this is just one more example of how the impossible task of scrubbing Jackson's imprint from the Lakers has gone horribly wrong. I have no doubt that Jackson prefers that the Lakers succeed, if nothing else than for the sake of his lady, Jeanie Buss, and for the players he enjoyed, like Kobe, Pau and Metta World Peace. But given the way the Lakers -- specifically Jim Buss -- handled the post-Phil landscape (dissing the chosen successor Brian Shaw) and the D'Antoni hire (leading Jackson on), the Zen Master must also feel a small measure of glee to see the Jimmy-Mike D. alliance flailing. I mean, D'Antoni reacted in a perfectly snively way. Phil had to laugh when he saw it. Kobe sure did. (See: "Lol.")
The way Jim Buss and the Lakers organization has treated Jackson and the specter of Jacksonness has created an impossible task for the team's coaches. Mike Brown had his own set of problems, but he was never going to win after taking over for Phil without the blessing of Jackson or Kobe. D'Antoni had the Bryant seal of approval -- we all know how long that endorsement lasts -- but fans and Kobe himself will always grade Mike D. against the alternative ... which would have been Jackson. The guy with 11 rings.
You can't compete against a legend. So don't set up your team and your employees for the crazy comparison! Giving the job to the able Shaw in 2011 would have prevented a lot of this nonsense. Kobe, close with the coach, would have gone out of his way to make the transition smooth. (I think.) Jackson would never have flirted with a return. (I think.) The Lakers still wouldn't have competed for a title last season, because players matter more than anything, and the Lakers didn't have a roster nearly as good as that of Oklahoma City. But L.A. would have been able to cleanly move away from the Jackson era.
Instead, we're two years gone and still talking about Phil after a Lakers loss. Good job, Jimmy.