FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2012, file photo, then-New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni reacts during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2012, file photo, then-New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden in New York. D'Antoni's agent says the Los Angeles Lakers have signed the former coach of the Suns and Knicks to a four-year contract to replace Mike Brown in a deal late Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, two days after the Lakers fired Brown five games into the season.(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File) (Bill Kostroun)

I probably took 50 or more calls from friends and colleagues Friday in the hours following Mike Brown's dismissal as head coach of the Lakers.

I could fund a weekend trip to Las Vegas if I had a dollar for each time I argued in favor of Mike D'Antoni as his replacement over Phil Jackson.

I even expressed that sentiment in a column Friday shortly after the Lakers fired Brown, my instincts telling me D'Antoni would better fit the Lakers' needs for a long-term commitment and an offensive system that enables their current roster rather than disables it.

But every time I heard Lakers fans chant "We want Phil!" during games against Golden State and Sacramento this weekend, I cringed thinking the Lakers might cave under pressure and pull Jackson out of retirement to come save them.

And each time I heard the job was Jackson's if he wanted, an understanding that followed a marathon meeting Saturday between the Zen Master and Lakers vice president Jim Buss, my gut kept telling me the Lakers were about to make a monumental mistake.

Knowing darn well D'Antoni was the superior choice.

I guess by now it's pretty obvious how I feel about everything that unfolded between Sunday afternoon and the wee hours of Monday morning.

Like everyone else, I went to sleep Sunday reluctantly accepting Jackson would be the new coach.

Only to wake up to the news the Lakers executed a back-door pick and hired D'Antoni instead.

They didn't just make the ensuing lay-up; they got hacked in the process for an "and-one" three-point play.


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The Lakers made the right call, for this season and the immediate and long-range future.

They get a well-respected coach who runs an offense better suited for their current personnel, most prominently point guard Steve Nash, who flourished under D'Antoni during four highly successful seasons in Phoenix.

It's an offense that takes little time to pick up and takes advantage of the Lakers' array of skills.

And if you watched the Lakers blow out the Warriors and Kings this weekend while playing an up-tempo, free-flowing offense, you saw what is possible in an offense that accentuates individual talents.

That is what D'Antoni brings.

Jackson would have insisted on his triangle offense, which is perfectly fine when your point guard is Derek Fisher or B.J. Armstrong but terribly unnecessary when it's Nash.

And don't believe what you hear that the Lakers' roster lacks the outside shooters necessary to operate D'Antoni's offense.

The Lakers have shooters; they've just been miscast in Brown's offense and would have been in Jackson's too.

Jodie Meeks can knock down open threes. Antawn Jamison can hit open spot-up jumpers. So can Steve Blake and of course Nash.

In D'Antoni's offense, they'll get more open looks than they ever would have in the triangle.

And if they decide they need to bring in more outside shooters, there is ample time to seek trades.

It's not just philosophy that makes this the right decision.

This is about securing the coaching position for the immediate future, something the 68-year-old Jackson could never promise the Lakers.

No matter what Jackson says right now - or how he feels physically - he can't possibly predict how his spirit or body will feel at the end of the season.

Think about how many times during his last go-around with the Lakers he'd contemplate retirement, the wear-and-tear of a grueling season taking its toll on him, the lure of his beloved Montana retreat beckoning?

And then take a few weeks into the offseason to decide whether he'd return?

That wasn't going to change this time around, and if anything the uncertainty would have been even more pronounced.

Did the Lakers really want that indecision, and did they really want to be stuck in the same place next June, looking for a new coach, if Jackson decided he couldn't hack it anymore?

Only this time without D'Antoni available?

That would have been a mistake, and right now the Lakers have no room for error.