Lakers players excited by D'Antoni's up-tempo style

Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:09pm EST
 

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers will not have their new coach on the sidelines for Friday's home game against the Phoenix Suns but Mike D'Antoni's players have enthusiastically embraced the up-tempo style he has promised.

Renowned for the offense-minded approach he adopted while in charge of the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, D'Antoni has pledged more of the same in Los Angeles after being signed to a three-year deal.

"I'm genuinely excited about it," said five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, a huge fan as a child of D'Antoni's basketball play in Italy, where Bryant grew up. Bryant later got to know D'Antoni well when he was an assistant coach on the U.S. national team.

"The fact that I'm genuinely excited about it, Steve (Nash) is, Dwight (Howard) is, Pau (Gasol) is, it makes it easier for everyone else to fall in line behind that."

Bryant, who has described D'Antoni as an "offensive genius", was delighted by the number of pick-and-roll routines during the Lakers' first practice session with their new coach on Thursday.

"We'll do a lot of that," Bryant said. "We'll put them in positions where they have to pick and choose what they're going to do. Then it's on us or the ball-handler to make the right decision.

"This is obviously easier to adapt to," he said of D'Antoni's style compared to the more complicated Princeton offense attempted by Mike Brown, who was fired as Lakers coach a week ago after the team made a dismal 1-4 start to the season.

"We have a lot of guys here who are extremely skilled from a basketball standpoint and can do a myriad of things. It's a pretty seamless transition for us."   Continued...

 
New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni is interviewed over a mobile phone as Lakers' championship trophies are seen in a window above the Lakers' practice court following a media conference at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, California November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok