The Phil Jackson or Stan Van Gundy era was never given a chance because the New York Knicks are bringing back Mike Woodson as head coach. Knicks fans are breathing a collective sigh of relief to hear this good news and have to be happy that team management has (finally) done the right thing.
In recent weeks the buzz on sports radio here in New York was that Phil Jackson would be heading to New York to helm the Knicks. Thankfully, the glow of his rings didn’t entice Knicks owner James Dolan to think about tossing Woodson for the glitter. Despite his past success, it was unlikely that Jackson could have duplicated that in the Garden with a team centered around Carmelo Anthony. Yes, Jackson could be seen as a great leader and very successful one, but the game here in New York is more about the players than coach, and Woodson is definitely a players’ coach.
There were also rumors in recent days of Stan Van Gundy being considered, after being released from the Orlando Magic. Most Knicks fans were probably scratching their heads over that one because it makes no sense to bring a Van Gundy anywhere near the Garden at this point. These Knicks are about looking towards future success, and their best chance at that is with Woodson in charge.
After taking over for Mike D’Antoni in the middle of March, Woodson guided the Knicks to the playoffs with an 18-6 record. Of course, the Knicks did end up losing to the Miami Heat in the first round, but that has nothing to do with Woodson’s leadership skills and more to do with a team decimated by injuries and plagued with some demons that still need to be purged, mostly the notion that Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire cannot effectively work together.
Reports indicate that Woodson was given a three-year deal around $12 million, and this is a case of the right man getting the job and Knicks fans must be happy today. He somehow found a way to work with Anthony, who became a different player (or some say the player he is supposed to be) under his leadership, and his emphasis on a more defensive approach (rather than D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy of just keep shooting baskets) certainly worked for the Knicks over those last 24 games.
So wonder of wonders, the Knicks did the right thing. We cannot be sure how far the Knicks will now be able to go, but the idea is to finish better than seventh seed at all costs. If anyone can make that happen it is Woodson.
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