As the Lakers officially announced their hiring of Mike D’Antoni as the team’s head coach, two prominent Lakers were noticeably absent.
Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
But don’t get twisted. They didn’t speak to reporters, but it’s hardly because they were upset with D’Antoni’s arrival. No doubt, both strongly endorsed Phil Jackson coming to the Lakers. But they gave glowing approval to D’Antoni in recent days.
So why were they silent after Monday’s practice? Easy, they weren’t around because of more important matters.
Nash missed Monday’s practice so he could get more treatment on the fracture in his left leg. Bryant sat out of a voluntary scrimmage to rest his foot. Then, he took Lakers guard Steve Blake in his helicoptor to Orange County so he could receive an ultra sound on his lower abdominal strain, which worsened during the Lakers’ 103-90 victory Sunday over the Sacramento Kings.
Pau Gasol sat out of the voluntary scrimmage so he could work out, while Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace competed. All gave ringing endorsements of D’Antoni’s arrival.
So, too, did Bryant and Nash. They just came on different days.
“I love Mike,” Nash said, who played four seasons and won two MVP awards under D’Antoni in Phoenix.. “If he were the coach, it would be seamless and terrific for me and the team as well.”
Bryant spent plenty of time in his post-game press conference following the Lakers’ win Friday over Golden State campaigning for Jackson’s return. He acknowledged unsettled feelings that the pain in his surgically repaired right knee partly attributed to the Lakers’ inability to deliver Jackson his 12th NBA championship before retiring May, 2011. Still, Bryant also endorsed D’Antoni, who was an assistant coach with Team USA during both the 2008 and 2012 London Olympics.
“They know how I feel about Phil. They know how I feel about D’Antoni,” Bryant said after the Lakers’ win Sunday over the Kings. “That’s the extent of it.”
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