Mike D’Antoni is set to make his debut on the bench with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, taking the helm at a team that has leveled off since its disastrous start.
D’Antoni’s highly anticipated debut will come against the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN noted.
“I’m too psyched up and too ready to go,” D’Antoni told reporters after shootaround Tuesday. “I’ll get through this; it’s no big deal.”
Mike D’Antoni’s selection has come as something of a surprise in Los Angeles. The Lakers fell to a 1-4 start this year under former coach Mike Brown, despite an offseason spending spree that brought center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash to complement Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace.
The Lakers slow start prompted the team to fire Brown, and most observers expected former Lakers coach and Hall of Famer Phil Jackson to return to the bench. The team’s management actually spent the weekend after Brown’s firing working with Jackson on a contract, but despite reports that the decision was up to Jackson whether to return or not, the Lakers announced that they would select D’Antoni as coach.
Mike D’Antoni sat out the Lakers first two games since being named the team’s 24th head coach as he recovered from a recent knee replacement surgery.
The media and Lakers fans have placed high expectations on Mike D’Antoni, but he has also done the same. Last week he said that if the Lakers were not in the playoff hunt, he will have failed.