‘Injuries Are an Unfortunate Part of This Game’: Lakers’ Assistant Coach Answers Critics After Disappointing Playoff Departure

Published 06/05/2021, 7:30 AM EDT
May 27, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) scores over Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) during the third quarter of game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


The 2021 season has ended on a disappointing note for the Los Angeles Lakers. In a first-round matchup with Phoenix Suns, the series fell 4-2 for LeBron James and his army. While it had been an injury-plagued season for them, the defending champions failed to stand tall in the absence of their offensive powerhouse Anthony Davis.

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With Frank Vogel at the front office, the Lakers became a dominant side in 2019. A star duo in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, coupled with a strong bench, completed their roster to a title fit. However, this year was different for the bubble champions. They faced a young but ruthless Devin Booker with half-capacity Chris Paul in the postseason. And Suns simply thrashed them in Game 6.

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; The opening tipoff between Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) and Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports | Courtesy: Reuters

Line of achievements for Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy

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Despite a sad moment for the franchise, their assistant coach, Phil Handy is counting on his prolonged success. He joined the Lakers in 2019 alongside Vogel and was a part of their championship run last year. But, he has enjoyed 6 straight years of coaching a Finals team with 3 rings on the way.

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Previously, he met LeBron in Cleveland Cavaliers for 4 Final appearances from 2015 to 2018; locked horns with the Golden State and won a title in 2016. Next in line were the Toronto Raptors (2019) and Lakers (2020), which resulted in championships as well.

So, it’s been quite a remarkable coaching run for Phil Handy. Even though he sighed over the embarrassing defeat this season, his personal career has been on a roll.

Injuries played spoilsport this season

Well, haters have been upfront this time in criticizing the Lakers for not being even close to a consecutive championship. After Lakers’ playoff exit on Thursday night, Phil tweeted about how injuries played a spoilsport for them.

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LeBron was benched for most part of the regular season, and Anthony Davis suffered a groin injury in do-or-die playoff games. It’s been rough for the 2020 champions and Phil Handy is shutting out the critics for taking a dig at his team.

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Phil has been in the coaching business since 2011 and he has come a long way in success post that. Unfortunately, his streak to the Finals has come to an end this year with the Lakers’ departure from the postseason.

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Pavni Ahuja

499 articles

Pavni Ahuja is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Housing a keen interest in sports journalism, she is pursuing an undergraduate Journalism degree from Christ University. Pavni is an ardent fan of the NBA, with prior district-level playing experience in basketball.

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