D'Antoni 'shocked' to be new Lakers coach

Nov. 15, 2012 at 9:56 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- New Los Angeles Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni admitted Thursday to being surprised that he was selected for the job over Phil Jackson.

D'Antoni was hired earlier this week to replace the dismissed Mike Brown and will take over his new position on Friday when the Lakers host Phoenix.

Los Angeles is off to a 3-5 start despite a roster filled with superstar players.

Brown was fired just five games into the season and assistant Bernie Bickerstaff then coached the Lakers for two games.

Speculation concerning Brown's replacement had focused on Jackson, who retired as the Lakers' coach following the 2010-11 season. Jackson had indicated he was interested in returning to the Los Angeles bench.

Instead, D'Antoni was given the position after having previously been the head coach with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets.

D'Antoni, 61, went through an introductory news conference Thursday and when asked for his reaction to his being chosen over Jackson, he said:

"I was shocked before, but now that's wearing off."

"Phil's a great, great coach," D'Antoni said. "The reality is I'm extremely fortunate that we went this direction and I can't wait to get started.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to make it a good decision."

D'Antoni is recovering from knee replacement surgery, but he said he was ready for the full-time load of coaching.

"I don't need a crutch, I'm just a little stiff," D'Antoni said. "By this weekend I should be fine."

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