D’Antonis land with Lakers, reunite with Bryant, Nash

Mike D’Antoni, brother of Beach Ball Classic founder and former Socastee High coach Dan D’Anroni, was hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Mike and Dan D’Antoni, who most recently worked together with the New York Knicks, will try to tackle the issues plaguing the Lakers, who were also negotiating with former coach Phil Jackson.

D’Antoni received a three-year deal worth $12 million and includes a team option after a phone interview Saturday, the day the Lakers met for an extended face-to-face session with Jackson, the 11-time NBA championship coach, who reportedly made steep contract demands that included restricted travel and upfront money.

D’Antoni’s reputation as an innovative offensive mind made him an attractive fit for a team trying to move far from the slow-paced Princeton offense coach Mike Brown implemented. His up-tempo offense was mastered by point guard Steve Nash during their days in Phoenix. Nash signed with the Lakers in the offseason.

The D’Antonis also have a close connections with Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who grew up in Italy watching Mike D’Antoni play in that country’s pro league. Bryant also played in the Beach Ball Classic in 1996 when Dan was running the Myrtle Beach-based tournament.

Interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff could remain at the head of the Lakers bench for Tuesday’s game at Staples Center against the Spurs. since Mike D’Antoni had knee surgery weeks ago and doesn’t have full mobility. Bickerstaff won his first two games since a 1-4 start led to Brown’s dismissal Friday.

Mike D’Antoni is expected to once again hire his elder brother Dan as an assistant. Dan D’Antoni coached for 30 years at Socastee High before joining Mike’s staff in Phoenix, and they worked together again with the Knicks before last year’s split with New York.

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