For anyone who didn’t understand why Mike D’Antoni might have wanted out before, it took only 40 minutes after news of his resignation as Los Angeles Lakers coach first broke to become painfully clear.
That’s how long Magic Johnson waited before he danced on D’Antoni’s coaching grave, the Lakers legend sending a tweet heard ’round the basketball world that said everything about why this partnership was so problematic. D’Antoni’s seat hadn’t even cooled, and Johnson was bringing heat.
“Happy days are here again!” he wrote, drawing 20,000 retweets and 11,000 favorites in the first hour. “Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!”
Actor Lee Majors once made being The Fall Guy in Los Angeles the job that everyone wanted, and there was a time when being Lakers coach was the coolest gig around too. But this is a different time for the fallen franchise, and D’Antoni’s fall-guy role was something far more unsavory.
This Lakers fan base that followed Johnson’s lead throughout the D’Antoni tenure never forgave him for not being Phil Jackson. He was the surprise hire back in November 2012, when everyone from Kobe Bryant to the equipment managers to the Staples Center parking attendants were talking as if Jackson’s return was imminent. D’Antoni absorbed much of their angst and took the blame for their demise, with the Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash injuries coupled with Dwight Howard’s departure via free agency setting the stage for the worst season (27-55) since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1960.
So as was first reported by USA TODAY Sports on Saturday, D’Antoni kept pushing for Lakers management to pick up the 2015-16 team option on his contract as an unofficial way of providing hazard pay for this job. They only wanted to ensure that he’d be back for next season, but he wanted to avoid the lame-duck status and all the criticism that likely would have come with it.
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SOURCE: USA Today