Mike D’Antoni, the current Lakers head coach, used to coach the Mavericks’ Shawn Marion when the small forward played for the Phoenix Suns. Lakers point guard Steve Nash also previously played for the Suns during D’Antoni’s term in Phoenix. Since Nash also played for Dallas from 1998-2004 after his first run with the Suns, he will reunite with former teammate and good friend Dirk Nowitzki, the power forward for the Mavs.
Besides both Marion and Nowitzki, Nash has played with all three of my Tipoff Trio because guard/forward Vince Carter also had a short stint with the Suns. Before their match, I will compare both teams’ head coaches.
As the 2013-14 season tipped off this past week, both opponents have won twice. Dallas has lost once, and LA has lost twice so far. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who recently celebrated his 54th birthday on Oct. 27, has a .587 win-loss percentage for the regular season and .515 for the playoffs. D’Antoni, at age 62 and who went to the Lakers this past season, has a .535 win percentage for the regular season and .441 playoff mark.
Once upon a time, I actually thought that D’Antoni was a prime coach. After all, he was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2004-05, when Nash was named MVP that regular season. Both the season before and after, their Suns won 60-plus games. However, in 2006-07, the Mavs had even better record, and Nowitzki was named MVP after Nash was named twice in-a-row.
Aside from the history of these teams one-upping each other with turnovers of these titles, both of their head coaches are decent and have seen their share of successes.
Carlisle also was named Coach of the Year in 2001-02 after his first season with the league with the Detroit Pistons. When he took charge of the Indiana Pacers in 2002-03, he led them to their franchise-best record. During his second season in Indy, the Pacers faced his former team in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Of course, Carlisle’s icing on his coach cake would be winning the 2011 NBA Finals with the Mavs. Therefore, the things that Carlisle has over D’Antoni other than better win-loss percentages would be the Larry O’Brien trophy and a championship ring as a coach.
I would not say that Carlisle is past his prime like I believe that D’Antoni is. D’Antoni’s coaching career has declined since he went to the now-Brooklyn Nets. He lucked out by going to Los Angeles last season when the Lakers fired Mike Brown after a 1-4 start.
Both coaches struggled during the previous season as they broke even at .500. I would suggest to them that they both pick up former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson‘s most recent book: Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.
It should go without saying: Jackson, the fiancé of late Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss‘ daughter, Jeanie Buss (who is chief operations officer of the franchise), knows how to win championships. This “Zen Master” ought to school D’Antoni, who still has no such accolade as an NBA coach.
I would say he also could school Carlisle, but Carlisle already knows. Plus, D’Antoni has the advantage of taking tips from “Peaceful Phil” by being with the Lakers.