Most of the American populace and the greater Los Angeles area thought former Lakers coach Mike Brown‘s speedy firing on Friday was to clear the way for Lakers legend Phil Jackson to return to the bench.
So, apparently, did Jackson, who quickly drew up a laundry list of all the favors he wanted if he was to return and make miracles happen again in L.A.
But now Jackson is on the other end of a shocker, as the surprising firing of Brown has been coupled with the surprising hiring of Mike D’Antoni to be the new Lakers coach.
While Jackson was approached by the team and was in negotiations about the job, he reportedly asked for a bit too much. Before he could pull the trigger on his decision, which was supposed to come Monday, the Lakers went with someone else.
Now Jackson is “stunned” by the Lakers’ choice, according to reports from Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard via ESPNLosAngeles.com. He thought “it was his job to turn down” throughout the process.
Jackson had reportedly asked for several special arrangements to be made if he was to return, among them a bigger hand in personnel decisions, travel favors to ease his chronic health problems and specific salary requests.
But the Lakers — who were so ready to move on from Jackson after the 2011 season that they effectively purged the organization of all personnel connected to the 11-time NBA championship-winning coach — decided to go with a fresh face rather than reentering a world that included Jackson calling the shots.
The Lakers were also reportedly uneasy about going back to Jackson’s triangle offense due to the new players the team has acquired, including center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash, who played extensively and effectively under D’Antoni when the two were together on the fast-paced Phoenix Suns.
Lakers spokesman John Black said team owner Jerry Buss, executive vice president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak were “unanimous that D’Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time,” according to ESPN.
Less unanimous may be the fan base, which was pushing loudly for Jackson’s return and seemed to have its wish granted as the coaching rumors developed Friday evening. Now they and Jackson are in the same boat as the Lakers begin the D’Antoni era.