Jerry West: Criticism of Mike D’Antoni has been ‘grossly unfair’
Laker legend Jerry West fended off criticism of Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni on Monday, saying he’s done a nice job after inheriting a team under difficult circumstances.
The Hall of Famer put his support behind D’Antoni who has faced criticism from media and fans after taking over a Lakers team floundering at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and coaching them to a 45-37 record and a playoff berth.
“I think there’s been far too much criticism of Mike [D'Antoni],” West said to Max Kellerman and Marcellus Wiley on ESPN LA 710 radio.
“I think it’s grossly unfair to him. He inherited a team that had a bunch of injuries,” West said. “He inherited a team without a training camp. I think he’s done a nice job, to be honest with you.”
West also questioned why Lakers fans and media members continue their obsession with the team’s decision not to hire former coach Phil Jackson.
“I think all of us felt they were going to hire Phil, and it didn’t happen,” West said. “People have to move on. That’s what makes sports so interesting. You have to let decisions that are made be made and see what happens.”
West said the presence of high-salaried talents Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash didn’t mean the Lakers were a lock to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference or contend for an NBA title.
“When you put a bunch of people together, you have to look at age. You have to look at lot of different things,” he said. “In the course of a season, the most difficult thing to do is to get through an 82-game schedule, particularly when you have older players.”
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last week that D’Antoni would return as coach next season.