When the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, they cited a desire for more instantaneous results (via USA Today). After starting 1-4 and failing to display signs of progress, they decided it was time to move in another direction.
The Lakers opted to hire offensive guru Mike D'Antoni (via ESPN). As a result, D'Antoni must know one thing about this new approach.
If he fails to win immediately, D'Antoni will feel the wrath of the Lakers' faithful fans. There will be no grace period from an organization hungry for a spot amongst the Western Conference's elite.
As a result, D'Antoni has two options. Either he can win and remain sheltered from criticism, or lose and enter the same realm of disappointment that Brown had previously found himself in.
By virtue of these shortcomings, it's fair to assume that the calls will come for his job.
As for when he will begin his tenure as Lakers coach, look for D'Antoni to be on the sidelines come Sunday. The Lake Show will play the up-tempo Houston Rockets in a battle of offensive wits.
New Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he would likely coach Sunday versus Houston.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 15, 2012
Let the games begin.
Abandoned Brown for Instant Success
For those of you who have spent the 2012-13 regular season with their head under a rock, the Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown after just five games. Their reasoning behind such a move was the lack of desired results and the deprivation of progression as a unit.
If Coach D'Antoni suddenly steps in and experiences the same growing pains, what was the point of firing Brown in the first place?
The Lakers abandoned the Princeton offense to hire a coach that will bring them instant gratification. Although it would be fair for a coach to have a grace period in applying their system to new personnel, what is just is not relevant in Los Angeles.
When you're succeeding a coach that has underachieved, however, that luxury has been lost.
Doubts Have Mounted
Mike D'Antoni is in a rather unique situation. Normally when a new head coach is appointed, they start with a clean slate and are granted the opportunity to win their way into the good graces of their local fans.
For D'Antoni, however, it appears as if Lakers fans doubt his ability to win an NBA championship before he's even coached a game.
With a track record of undervaluing defense and never once reaching the NBA Finals, there is reason for skepticism. The Lakers are a franchise which values nothing short of an NBA Championship as success.
If D'Antoni is unable to bring them a title, he'll have failed.
When you consider the fact that Steve Nash is 38, the window of opportunity grows smaller. With Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace all set to become free agents in 2014, the pressure grows heavier.
Can D'Antoni carry the burden?
Phil Jackson 11, Mike D'Antoni 0
Not only was Mike D'Antoni hired as a replacement to an underachieving head coach, but he was selected over 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson. For those unfamiliar with Jackson's work, he won five titles for this very Lakers franchise.
Even still, D'Antoni was the choice. For better or worse.
With D'Antoni entering as head coach instead of the fan preference of Jackson, the expectation grows larger for a title. Jackson is widely considered to be the greatest coach in NBA history, thus making every season he's active one in which title contention is guaranteed.
If D'Antoni is to struggle early, the calls for his job will begin in Jackson's favor. If he's unable to win an NBA Championship, he will be labeled a failure.
Which is exactly why there is no time to waste for D'Antoni.