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

51 Comments

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.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Christmas Day’s games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 12pm ET on Christmas Day. Here’s the FanDuel link.

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.

Stan Van Gundy talks up Pistons’ rookie Luke Kennard

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Luke Kennard came out of Duke with one of the best jump shots in the draft — he’s got a skill that translates to the NBA and will help the Pistons. The questions were about his defense and athleticism, but he started to answer those when he averaged 17.2 points a game in the Orlando Summer League. He hit threes but generally just looks like a guy who just knows how to get buckets.

So far, at the Pistons’ training facility and in the Orlando Summer League, coach and decision maker with the Pistons Stan Van Gundy likes what he sees from his rookie, he told the Pistons’ official website.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” Van Gundy said. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball….

“We’ve seen that a lot. He’s got great mental toughness,” Van Gundy said. “The thing I have great confidence in is that as he runs into challenges in the league – and everybody does and he’ll be no exception – I just think he’s a smart guy who’s adaptable. I think he’ll figure out a way to combat it. I’ve got great confidence in his ability to do that….

“The thing I didn’t know that he showed me is he has the ability to move his feet defensively. Now, he’s still got a long way to go in terms of handling some of the other things, rotations and things like that. But he certainly showed that he can get down in a stance and move his feet. I did not have a good feel for that going into the draft, so that was a positive.”

Yes, you should take a coach talking up a rookie before a game is played with a grain of salt.

However, the comment about the potential to defend is good news. SVG is right that mental toughness, and willingness to put in the work, is what will allow Kennard to take steps forward, but he has to have a baseline to get there and Van Gundy thinks he has that. Kennard has challenges ahead of him but if he can keep hitting shots the Pistons will give him time to work out everything else.

Kennard is going to get plenty of run as the backup to Avery Bradley at the two in Detroit. In with a second unit of guys like Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver, Kennard is going to get his chances to score. He could put up decent numbers for a rookie.

 

John Wall has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral (VIDEO)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If the Redskins need a quarterback should Kirk Cousins go down — he has played a full 16-game schedule the past two years, which is pretty remarkable — maybe rather than Colt McCoy Washington should look at the guy who makes the Wizards’ go.

John Wall showed on Friday he has a strong arm, can throw a tight spiral, and hit his man.

I love that Wall starts calling out Tom Brady after one good pass.

Michael Beasley had his truck stolen out of his driveway

Getty Images
4 Comments

Michael Beasley will be getting buckets, shooting long twos, and playing inconsistent defense for the New York Knicks next season (the analysis is just based on recent history).

But first, he’d like to find his truck. Which was stolen.

Well, I did see a Dodge Ram 1500 on the road today, but since I’m on the West Coast and I have no idea what color/year Beasley’s truck is, I’m going to assume the guy I saw didn’t perpetrate the heist.

Still, that sucks for Beasley, even if he can easily afford to replace it.

Kevin Durant gets into Twitter debate with reporter over White House comments

9 Comments

Kevin Durant became the latest Warrior — joining Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston, that we know of — to say he would not visit President Donald Trump’s White House as NBA champion. Which is all kind of moot because it’s unlikely the White House invites them and outspoken Trump critic/Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his players any way. (The White House’s biggest concern should be that Kerr accepts the invitation and uses that platform to challenge the president’s policies and style in front of him.)

Durant’s comments led to plenty of talk on sports talk radio and around the sports world online about whether a player or team should decline an invitation from the president. It’s not a new debate, Tom Brady denied that politics is why he didn’t visit Barack Obama’s White House (although I’m not sure many believed him), but KD’s on a big stage now so it became a talking point.

Former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry questioned a player not visiting the White House, and Durant responded, leading to a little Twitter back-and-forth.

Durant had previously Tweeted in response “by doing the opposite, I am inspiring more people” but that Tweet was deleted.

There is no one correct way to protest a person/policy/action, McHenry may see things differently, but Durant has chosen to stay away. That’s valid — traditionally these “champions to the White House” things are tedious photo ops with a few bad jokes thrown in. Having a hoops fan/player in Obama in the White House made the NBA visits more entertaining the past eight years, there was some trash talk, but still, they are largely just a public relations moment. If KD doesn’t want to play the PR game with Trump, that’s a legitimate response.

This has all been a tempest in a teapot. Until/unless the White House actually invites the Warriors to come, it’s all kind of moot.