To the surprise of many, including the potential candidates, the Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni early Monday morning. D'Antoni was chosen over legendary Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who was reportedly "stunned" at the news of the hiring. Jackson emerged as the top candidate for the position immediately after news of the abrupt firing of Mike Brown surfaced. D'Antoni was also a name that instantly floated among reporters, but it was expected that the position was Jackson's to turn down.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA reported on Jackson's surprise and incredulity -- noting that the news not only caught most of the public off-guard, but also Jackson, who was in negotiations with the team about filling the opening.
Jackson is, of course, an 11-time NBA champion as a head coach. Six of those titles came in Chicago with the Bulls, while the last five came in LA with the Lakers. Many presumed Jackson and the Lakers would work out the kinks of negotiating a new contract and he would return to the sidelines for a run at a 12th championship. But Shelburne cites a statement from Lakers spokesman John Black, who indicated that Jerry and Jimmy Buss, as well as GM Mitch Kupchak, were "unanimous that D'Antoni was the best coach for the team at this time."
It's certainly surprising news for close followers of the NBA, and apparently for Jackson as well.