It did not take long after Phil Jackson signed on as president of the New York Knicks for him to clean house. In fact, it took just over a month after Jackson took office for the former championship coach to announce that the Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and the entire coaching staff would be let go.
Woodson had only been the head coach for two seasons after he took the role on an interim basis. This was following the resignation of the Knicks former coach, Mike D’Antoni in 2011. Woodson then proceeded to lead the team to a division title the last season. In the playoffs Woodson led the team past the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before the Indiana Pacers stopped the Knicks hope for a championship.
The 2012-2013 season was the best showing for the Knicks in over a decade. It was a phenomenal feat for the first year under a new head coach. It normally takes a team a little while to fall into a new coaches program. Part of that first year success may have been from Woodson serving as an assistant coach under D’Antoni before taking over as the head coach. This allowed Woodson to tweak the program and get it running the way it should.
After a great first year as the Knicks head coach, Woodson was unable to lead the team back to the playoffs which led to Jackson to clean house. The Knicks came in third in their division but just missed the playoffs coming in 9th in the Eastern Conference. With the Knicks missing post season along with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, it marks the first time ever that none of what the NBA calls the Big Three teams to make it into the post-season.
New York is the first of the Big Three teams to make a move in hope of returning to dominance. While the Knicks have not had a championship season in almost four decades, the hope is that Jackson can bring his winning magic to the program.
As a coach, Jackson lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Championships and with the Lakers secured another five championships. Jackson did have an unfair advantage with Michael Jordan in Chicago and both Kobe Bryant and Shaq during his time with the Lakers. Jackson will have a lot of work to do during the off season to bring the Knicks back to a dominate force in the NBA.
The Knicks president may not have to look too far to fill the open coaching spot. Steve Kerr has already made it well known that he is expecting to have the position offered to him and he is ready to accept it. Kerr played for Jackson in Chicago during three of the Bulls championships and the two have remained friends over the years. Kerr is currently working as a broadcaster for TNT.
After Jackson cleaned out the Knicks coaching staff, fans started hoping that Madison Square Garden was on the way to house another power house Eastern Conference team. Many have thought back to the dominance of the Patrick Ewing era. While the Ewing era did not bring any titles to the Knicks, the team did have a lot of success in the playoffs. In the meantime, New York fans do have the Brooklyn Nets who are already leading the Toronto Raptors after a game one win.
Commentary by Carl Auer