Mike Woodson’s tenure at the New York Knicks came to an end today. Phil Jackson, the recently named President of the New York Knicks, made Mike Woodson the first victim of his organizational strategy by announcing today that it was time to change the culture and direction of a team that had a rough 2013-14 season. He fired Woodson and his entire coaching staff, allowing him to start the process of remaking the team he used to play for, back into a championship team. From 1967-1977 Jackson was an integral part of the famed Red Holzman coached New York Knick championship teams of 1970 and 1973. Championships are all that matter in a place that proudly calls itself ‘The Most Famous Arena in the World’ and more importantly ,‘The Mecca of Basketball’. The Knicks have not been living up to their arena’s promises in recent years, though.
Mike Woodson took over the team after Mike D’Antoni was let go in the middle of the 2012 season. Immediately , the effect was seen. The Knicks had a losing record when Woodson took over, but Woodson’s focus on defense paid dividends . He coached the Knicks to an 18-6 record at the end of the season and a seventh-seed in the playoffs. They did not advance, though, losing in the first round to Lebron James and the Miami Heat. The next season, with a wily veteran at the point in Jason Kidd and a long athletic frontline led by All-Star Tyson Chandler and backed by the also newly acquired Rasheed Wallace, they started out fast and ended with a 54-28 record earning them a 2 seed in the playoffs. Woodson coached the team to their first playoff series win since 2000. The Indiana Pacers ended that run.
After that relatively successful campaign Mike Woodson was rewarded with a contract extension through 2014-15 season. noone would have predicted at that time he would end up the victim of an offensive move by Phil Jackson in the not so distant future. The New York faithful had good reason to have high hopes that in the second complete season the defending Atlantic Division Champions had to work together and to buy into their coach’s system, they would take steps forward and not backward. Unfortunately ,for Woodson, the latter is what took place .
First , the aforementioned wily veteran, Jason Kidd , retired. Injuries to Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, and the much hyped forward Andre Bargnani further depleted a team gutted by retirements in the off-season.Add to that the off the court shenanigans carried out by J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton, and it is not hard to see why the Knicks started behind the 8-ball. A 3-13 record to start the season was a sign that everything was not good at ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena’. When it was clear that the Knicks were not going to make the playoffs, the talk of bringing native son, Jackson, back home in any capacity got more intense. The people who wanted him in New York were given a gift when he was made President in March. He watched as the Knicks finished a very disappointing 37-45. It is tantalizing to think what Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, would have done with this team and a scoring talent like Carmelo Anthony.
There is no guarantee that Carmelo is going to decide to stay and play with the Knicks as currently constructed. Especially when there are other teams out there that have a better core of players and are closer to winning the championship than the Knicks. Houston and Chicago to name two. It was not a big surprise, after reading the statement put out by Jackson, that Mike Woodson would be the first victim, seeing how Phil Jackson’s stated goal is to make changes through the organization. Woodson will have people who will defend his record and the amount of discipline he was able to instill in the team. New York fans have to trust that their native son has their best interest at heart.
by Daryl McElveen