The Los Angeles Lakers stunned the basketball world on Monday with the news that Mike D’Antoni, 61, will replace terminated coach Mike Brown, 42, instead of the presumed former Lakers coaching icon Phil Jackson, 67.

The Lakers, who were off to their worst start since 1993 with a 1-4 record, made headlines on Friday by firing Brown just five games into the current season. Expectations were high in Los Angeles this year due to the acquisition of such superstars as center Dwight Howard, 26, and point guard Steve Nash, 38. In addition to struggling to adapt to Brown’s offensive schemes, the team was also behind on defense, a trademark of Brown’s career.

D’Antoni will receive a contract worth $12 million over three years, with a team option for a fourth. According to ESPN LosAngeles.com, the decision stunned Jackson, who, according to sources, believed it was his job to accept and was ready to return to coaching.

In 10 seasons as a head coach with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, D’Antoni has compiled a record of 388-339 (.533). He is perhaps best known for his time in Phoenix when he led the once moribund Suns to four consecutive seasons of at least 54 wins. In 2008, he signed with the Knicks but led them to only one postseason appearance in four years. He is known for an up-tempo offense dubbed, “Seven Seconds or Less,” but is also known for lack of defensive coaching ability.

With the move, D’Antoni will be reunited with Nash, his point guard from his tenure with Phoenix and a two-time NBA MVP under D’Antoni’s tutelage. Kobe Bryant, 34, has always been a big admirer of D’Antoni’s. Bryant grew up in Italy and remembers watching D’Antoni play basketball there. In fact, Bryant’s former jersey number 8, is a tribute to D’Antoni.

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