It’s a little trick coaches use now and again, one Phil Jackson used to great effect — criticize a player to the media so he gets the message. A little humiliation can go a long way to getting a player to fall in line.
But if a player uses the same tactic, oh lord, it’s an abomination in the coach’s eye. An affront to all things good about the game.
Which brings us to Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni. He’s more publicly positive than most but he’s used the tactic of knocking a player publicly to get his point across. Remember last season when D’Antoni was asked why he didn’t re-insert Pau Gasol in a game and he said “Because I wanted to win.”
Tuesday night after another Lakers loss Gasol complained about D’Antoni’s lineups — going small even when that doesn’t work — and added “I don’t think there’s a lot of discipline right now.”
D’Antoni’s response? Gasol shouldn’t have said that to the media. Here are his exact quotes, via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“The thing I just don’t appreciate … You just keep it in-house,” D’Antoni said before the Lakers’ 108-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “It’s very easy just to come over and talk about your frustrations. We’ll try to work something out. We’ll figure something out.
“But to go to (the media) and to do it in the papers, that’s disturbing. I just don’t think that’s the way to go and people should understand that we’re all trying to solve the same problem, so let’s just put our heads together and do the best we can.”
I’d suggest Gasol and D’Antoni sit down and hash their differences out, but really what’s the point?
Gasol is gone from the Lakers after this season and he’s done suffering fools gladly. He’ll speak his mind, something he has a right to do as a veteran — and he’s right, D’Antoni’s rotations are confusing and odd at times.. His game has deteriorated some but he’s also been forced into uncomfortable roles under this system and he has every right to voice that objection.
D’Antoni has pretty much become the interim coach in Los Angeles — nobody much thinks he’s the guy to lead this team back to contention, but so long as they are light on talent (and that could extend into next season depending on how summer free agency goes) he’s the man. Los Angeles can hope system can find some diamonds in the rough. Or if not diamonds some role players. Maybe he can inflate the stats of some guys who can then be traded for something of value.
For 25 more games, Gasol and D’Antoni need to be at least civil to one other and try to find a happy medium. Then come April 18 they can go their separate ways.