Mike D’Antoni to frustrated Lakers fans: ‘Find another team to root for’

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Mike D’Antoni doesn’t get it.

His off-the-cuff style might work with players, and I’m sure the media loves it.

But after the Lakers lost by 27 points to the Suns on Monday, a game following a 19-point loss to the Warriors, D’Antoni went after the fans.

Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com (emphasis mine):

Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was defiant when a reporter suggested fans have become “discouraged” by the team’s 13-15 start to the season.”Why would I be discouraged?” D’Antoni said. “We’re fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well before and they’ll play [well] again. If [the fans] are discouraged, then, you know, find another team to root for. I’m all right. We’re not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That’s not even fair to these guys.”

D’Antoni can be encouraged and keep everyone going with positive vibes. He can be discouraged and motivate his players with negativity. It doesn’t matter, in a grander sense, which direction he chooses to take the team. That’s his call.

But he never should tell fans to go away for simply being frustrated.

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The Lakers bring in massive sums of money – money that pays D’Antoni’s salary – because they have fans. Those fans buy tickets and merchandise. They view advertisements that bring money to the Lakers directly from in-arena advertisers and indirectly through TV and radio deals.

That money does not give fans an absolute right to say and do whatever they want. But getting frustrated with a struggling team? That’s well within their rights, and they don’t deserve a coach – whose salary they’re paying – to tell them otherwise.

D’Antoni should apologize. Today.

He can stick up for his players. He can explain why fans shouldn’t be frustrated – he’s definitely allowed to make his case, which he already began to do in the non-bolded portion of the excerpted quote. But he also must say he doesn’t want them to stop supporting the team.

The Lakers are a business, and that business is predicated on drawing fans. D’Antoni’s main job is to implicitly draw fans by winning, because fans flock to winners. He doesn’t need to shill actively for fans to spend money on the team.

But he can’t go as far as brazenly and overtly alienating the team’s customers.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: