In a surprise move that could raise questions about head coach Mike D'Antoni's future, the Los Angeles Lakers hired fan favorite and former Phil Jackson disciple Kurt Rambis as an assistant coach. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak also announced today the hiring of a second assistant coach in Johnny Davis.
The pair will join Lakers assistant coach Dan D’Antoni, and player development coaches Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis.
“Kurt and Johnny bring many years of NBA experience both as coaches and as former players to this team,” said Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni. “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. Johnny 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.”
When Lakers management rejected Phil Jackson last year, and instead chose Mike D'Antoni as the team's coach, it marked a philosophical shift away from Jackson's triangle, or perhaps a clash of egos between Jackson and Jim Buss.
However, the hiring of Rambis -- a coach who ran the triangle during his stint in Minnesota -- creates an unlikely pairing between D'Antoni and a coach molded under Jackson.
Moreover, it raises the notion that should D'Antoni struggle to improve the team, Lakers brass would have an immediate replacement-in-waiting on the bench ready to take his spot.
In LA, Rambis is respected and well-liked among the general public based primarily on his playing days during the Lakers “Showtime” era, where helped the team win NBA titles in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988 as a rough-and-tumble power forward who played defense, set screens, and crashed the glass.
In addition, Rambis previously served three stints with the Lakers as an assistant coach, first from 1994-1999, before taking over as head coach 13 games into the 1998-99 season. He tied a then-NBA record with nine consecutive wins to start his head coaching career and led the team to a 24-13 mark and into the Western Conference Semifinals. Rambis then served as Advisor and Assistant General Manager from 1999-2001, and then as Vice President of Business and Basketball Integration for half of the 2004-05 season.
Rambis also served as an assistant coach with the Lakers from 2001-04 and from 2005-09, helping guide the team to two NBA Championships (2002 and 2009) as well as NBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2008. Rambis then went to Minnesota, where he was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2009-11.
By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services