Jaime Valdez-US PRESSWIRE
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said that Mike D'Antoni's reputation of not teaching defense is actually similar to how former coach Phil Jackson used to coach.
Kobe Bryant said he's not concerned about incoming head coach Mike D'Antoni's reputation for being careless when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. In fact, Bryant said that Phil Jackson, the other name in the Lakers' shortlist of coaching replacements for Mike Brown, also didn't emphasize much of defense in practice.
Bryant told USA Today's Sam Amick that D'Antoni's lack of a championship has something to do with the bad rap. He added that the thing D'Antoni has been criticized for overlooking in practice -- defense -- wasn't all that different under Jackson.
"I mean Phil's been here, and -- to be honest with you -- we might have, in all the years I've been with Phil, (had) maybe three defensive drills the entire time," Bryant said. "And I'm not understating it at all. But his philosophy was always -- you guys need to figure it out on your own. And that's what made him a phenomenal coach, was that he was able to sit back and trust the process and trust players to communicate with each other."
D'Antoni's hire came as surprise to Bryant, who thought Jackson was the favorite all along.
The future Hall of Famer said he was excited with the surprising hire nonetheless. Bryant watched D'Antoni while living in Italy as a child.
He also played on the Olympic team under the former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach. Bryant credited D'Antoni's offense to the two gold medals that Team USA has won in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games.