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D'Antoni is right pick for Lakers

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NBA,Craig Stouffer

Mike D'Antoni is the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Mike D'Antoni is not Mike Brown, who really never should have been the coach of the Lakers.

Mike D'Antoni is the right choice to coach the Lakers. He will speed up a team that couldn't have played any slower under Brown. He will reconnect with players like Steve Nash, whom he coached to great success with Phoenix, and Kobe Bryant, who idolized him as a player in Italy during Bryant's youth. His offensive expertise should get the most out of Dwight Howard even though some of it could come at the expense of Pau Gasol.

Mike D'Antoni is not the owner of 11 NBA championships. That is Phil Jackson.

Mike D'Antoni is not involved in a perceived power struggle with the owners of the Lakers, a team Jackson has bailed on twice.

Mike D'Antoni is willing to travel on the road with the Lakers, as is generally accepted as part of the job description for an NBA coach.

Mike D'Antoni is not inheriting a roster with superstars who don't fit together. There's a reason the New York Knicks are excelling while Carmelo Anthony is healthy and Amar'e Stoudemire isn't.

Mike D'Antoni is a coach who has been extremely unlucky in the playoffs. Joe Johnson missed the first two games of the 2005 Western Conference finals, which Phoenix lost to San Antonio 4-1. The Suns reached the 2006 conference finals without Stoudemire, and they came out on the losing end of Robert Horry's hip check of Nash in the 2007 second round, which might as well have been the NBA Finals.

Mike D'Antoni is not the fountain of youth. One of the biggest obstacles between the Lakers and an NBA title this season is the team's aging roster. Nash, 38, has missed all five games in November with a bruised shin. The Lakers' other major problem -- a corollary to the age issue -- is a lack of depth. D'Antoni doesn't traditionally go deep with his rotation. But that means he will have to lean more on his stars.

Mike D'Antoni is taking over early enough in the season to achieve everything the Lakers expected in the first place this year. If he does, what Mike D'Antoni is not will easily be forgotten.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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