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Mike D'Antoni on coaching the 2013 Lakers: "I thought I was gonna get killed"

Coaching a historic franchise isn't as lucrative as it may seem from the outside.
It's not easy to handle so many egos in a city like Los Angeles.

It's not easy to handle so many egos in a city like Los Angeles.

The massive disappointment of the Lakers squad this year has been one of the hottest topics throughout the whole season, largely due to the high expectations of the so-called superteam and obviously the market they play in. When you play for the Lakers, you are held to a higher standard, and the pressure sometimes gets to you. But not only to the players but also to the coaches. The season has brought memories of the 2013 Lakers squad that had a similar outcome, and their coach Mike D'Antoni talked about how challenging that year was.

We talking about friction?

Bringing Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to Kobe and Gasol immediately brought championship aspirations to Los Angeles, but the reality wasn't the same. On paper, the star power looked tremendous, but in reality, the fit, age, injuries, and lousy chemistry plagued the Lakers that season.

In the end, they would manage to at least get the 7th seed and get swept by the Spurs, but the overall taste was bad. Nash was injured for most of the year, Dwight never meshed with Kobe, and also missed significant time. Gasol was the odd man out, and Kobe gave it his all but eventually only tore his Achilles.

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The man on the bench wasn't safe from criticism, as D'Antoni also got the lion's share of the blame. While talking with JJ Redick on his podcast, Mike laughed at the notion there was only some friction in that lockerroom:

"Friction? I thought I was gonna get killed. Yeah, I would say there was some friction...I just couldn't get them on the same page. They didn't like each other. It was contentious. We didn't really have the talent...It just didn't work."

Mike D'Antoni, The Old Man and the Three

The pressure of the big markets

It's no secret Los Angeles and New York are the two biggest markets in the NBA, with historic franchised behind them. And D'Antoni had the opportunity to coach in both situations. It's very lucrative and exciting but far from easy, as expectations are sky-high. And coaches are always the first ones to get blamed and fired.

D'Antoni also explained the challenges of leading a team like the Lakers or the Knicks:

"It's either you win a championship, or you're not very good—just their past, and rightly so. Everything plays in. It's Hollywood. It has a lot of drama out there. It's a hard place, a great place...Playin in that arena is great, like MSG."

Mike D'Antoni, The Old Man and the Three

All in all, D'Antoni is a great coach and tactician, but when you have a group that doesn't work well together, no coach can implement a strategy that will make it work. So when a situation like that happens in a city like LA or New York, it's not easy to handle. Maybe that's why D'Antoni has now switched to an assistant role in Brooklyn, helping out Steve Nash in the background with the spotlight, not on him.

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