When you first read the title of this article, I guarantee that you thought the Los Angeles Lakers added new players to the squad to strengthen their bench. Well, that’s old news because the Lakers already added Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman and Wesley Johnson to fill the reserve roles. So what am I actually going to write about today? The title is pretty misleading at first glance, but it’ll make sense soon enough.
Yesterday, the Lakers hired Kurt Rambis and Johnny Davis as assistant coaches for Mike D’Antoni’s coaching staff. Now does the title make sense? Maybe not. Because some people might not know who these two men are.
Let’s start with Rambis.
Kurt Rambis was a player for the Lakers from 1981-1988 and later on from 1993-1995. In 1994, Rambis was a special assistant for the Lakers, but later returned to his role as a player. After he was waived early on in the 1995-1996 season he assumed his role as an assistant until 1999. In 1999, when Head Coach Del Harris was fired, Rambis took over and finished with a record of 24-13 in the regular season. That year, the Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals where they were swept by the Spurs.
He served as an Assistant General Manager during the time Phil Jackson was hired to coach the Lakers, but later returned to his role as an assistant coach under Jackson. He was an assistant under Jackson until 2004. Jackson left after the 2004 season and so did Rambis; however, that was short lived. When Jackson returned during the 2005-2006 season, Rambis followed. Rambis served as an assistant until 2009 and was later hired to be the Head Coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his time with the Lakers as an assistant he helped lead the team to 2 NBA titles and 4 NBA Finals appearances.
Coach D’Antoni said “Kurt is a great basketball mind, extremely good at working with big men, and his experience as a head coach in this league is going to prove very helpful to our staff”. After the news broke out yesterday, Rambis made a statement: “My background is more at the defensive end, and the Lakers obviously had problems at the defensive end last year. So hopefully I can bring some ideas and some drills that can help them get on the same page and play a much more consistent game on that end of the floor”. Essentially, Rambis will play the part of the Defensive Coordinator on the coaching staff and help develop a defensive scheme that can get the Lakers to their winning ways again.
A lot of people are underestimating what this team can do this upcoming season. But don’t forget the fact that when he’s ready to return, Kobe is still one of the greatest players in the game. If Nash stays healthy, he can make a huge impact on both the offense and the defense. Additionally, Pau Gasol, Nick Young, Chris Kaman, Wesley Johnson and others on the squad are very talented on the offensive side of the ball. Now, with Rambis as their mentor, the defense can be a huge threat to other teams.
Johnny Davis is the second assistant coach that was hired yesterday. Davis is a former NBA player who played from 1976-1986 for 4 different teams including the Blazers, Pacers, Hawks and Cavs. He begin his coaching career in 1996 with the 76ers as their Head Coach for a year and then as Head Coach of the Magic from 2003-2005. After that he was an assistant coach for the Grizzlies and the Raptors. D’Antoni said “Johnny [Davis] is a two-time NBA head coach with years of experience playing as well as coaching in this league. The vast array of NBA knowledge he brings to the table will be invaluable to us”.
Dan D’Antoni, Mike D’Antoni’s brother is the only assistant coach who remains from last year’s staff. However, the addition of Rambis and Davis will definitely make a positive impact for the Lakers as they try to revive themselves from the fiasco they were a part of last year.
To sidetrack a bit, Lakers fans have made it clear that they miss Phil Jackson and want him to return. But I view this move of hiring Rambis as bringing back a piece of Phil. Some might call me crazy for saying that, but I believe it’s true. Phil didn’t do all the work on his own and Rambis was a part of the Lakers’ success during their championship years. Even if he’s not the true Phil Jackson, he’s the closest thing we’ll be getting.
Message to Lakers’ fans: Instead of focusing on tweeting #BringBackPhil, let’s tweet #BringBackWinning because that’s what matters. Let’s get back to our winning ways and support our team like we always have.
Follow me on Twitter (@USC_Aposhian) for more news and updates about the Lakers.