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Mike D'Antoni admires Kobe Bryant's intensity, 'good or bad'

In Part 2 of an exclusive interview with The Times' T.J. Simers, the new Lakers coach says he looks forward to working with the star player once described by Phil Jackson as uncoachable.

November 13, 2012|By T.J. Simers
  • Mike D'Antoni shares links to Italy with Kobe Bryant.
Mike D'Antoni shares links to Italy with Kobe Bryant. (Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty…)

Here’s a little more from an hourlong interview with new Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni which will appear in a Page 2 column later.

Remarkably, he didn’t hang up, so we know he’s tough, but what’s with the “D’’ in D’Antoni? I didn’t think there was any.

“Do you know how old that is?’’ he says.

“OK, so people say when it comes to defense, your teams are just horrible.’’

“You’re listening to the wrong guys, so there you go,’’ D’Antoni says. “I don’t buy into it; how do you win 62 games [in Phoenix] and not play defense?

“We have the best road record in the league and you only win on the road with defense. Some things really don’t match up. We’re going to play good defense.

“The D I have right now is Dwight. I’ve got Dwight Howard back there and we’ll see how that D helps my name."

D’Antoni’s Suns played the Lakers in the 2006 playoffs, falling behind 3-1 before coming back to win the series.

In the book, ":07 seconds or less," the Suns were critical of the Lakers, with D’Antoni mocking Kobe Bryant for getting credit for sharing the ball.

“Well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?" D’Antoni says in the book. “Now he’s the savior because he’s playing that way? He’s no god."

So what about it, Mike?

“Did I say that?" says Antoni. “I’m sure I said that. I’m sure Kobe will beat me up for it too, and he should. But he knows I have the most respect for him of anybody."

In one of Jackson’s books, he called Kobe, "uncoachable." D’Antoni seemed to have the same problem with Carmelo Anthony in New York, ultimately contributing to D’Antoni’s resignation.

"Hell, I’m uncoachable at times," he says. “There are a lot of people who are uncoachable but they are the best at what they do in the world, so I don’t see it as a problem. I see it as an unbelievable asset.

"The guy is an unbelievable player and I’ve never been around anyone with the intensity he has. Sometimes it goes either way, good or bad, but I will take his ability play hard and his desire to win.

"And you know what, sometimes he might come off the floor cussing me out in Italian, which is good so many people won’t understand. And that’s great. I’m cool with that and cool with guys who want the same thing I want, which is winning."

More to come…

ALSO:

Phil Jackson gets call from Lakers and it's not what he expected

Lakers players surprised but enthused by hiring of Mike D'Antoni

It's unanimous: Lakers' selection of Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson is wrong

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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