Everybody in Lakerland knows better than to publicly criticize Kobe Bryant, but if you’re there long enough, you learn some tricks of the trade. Mike D’Antoni has not yet learned such tricks. He was about as good at hiding his disgust with Kobe’s defense as Kobe is at playing defense, which is to say, not very good.
Now, we all know defense has been a particularly sensitive topic for the Lakers this season, mostly because they’re terrible at it. Moreover, it’s been a particularly sensitive topic for D’Antoni throughout his coaching career, mostly because he doesn’t coach it with any semblance of consistency, and for Kobe throughout his playing career, mostly because he doesn’t play it with any semblance of consistency (the ball just finds him, guys!).
ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin got to the bottom of the issue, asking D’Antoni what he thought of Kobe’ off-ball prowess. And by “the bottom of the issue” I mean not very far:
Mike D’Antoni on Kobe’s off-ball defense: “Umm, it’s good … You know. I think sometimes he just … You know … Umm … Yeah, it’s good.”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 14, 2013
What are we really getting at here? Defense is like a cuss word in Los Angeles (as long as we’re talking about the Lakers, not the Clippers), so what did we really expect? This is as overt as D’Antoni will ever get.
[via SI.com, Getty Images]