Mike Woodson puts his stamp on Knicks
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
When former New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni returned to Madison Square Garden last week as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, it provided a perfect window into what the Knicks have become under coach Mike Woodson and what they failed to become with D’Antoni.
D’Antoni came in as coach of the Knicks in 2008-09 with fanfare and the promise of better days. A promise that was kept — sort of — for one season. The Knicks went to the playoffs in 2010-11, but lost in the first round.
D’Antoni didn’t stay around much longer. He resigned in March of last season when his style didn’t mesh with the roster.
While Woodson might have replaced D’Antoni under trying circumstances, he has made the Knicks a better team, finishing 18-6 in the final 24 games of last season and starting 18-6 this season for a 36-12 record. It’s the best 48-game start for any Knicks coach – and this is a team that has been coached by names like Red Holzman, Pat Riley, Don Nelson and Jeff Van Gundy.
What is the difference? It’s easy to point to D’Antoni’s commitment to offense and perceived lack of defense compared to Woodson’s commitment to defense. Certainly, that’s part of the story, but not all of it.
Woodson loves veterans, and that’s apparent in the makeup of this season’s roster – Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, Ronnie Brewer, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. It’s obvious he really likes them at the guard spot. Goodbye Jeremy Lin.
Last week, he opted not to compare what he’s done with the Knicks and what D’Antoni did with the Knicks.
“I took over the team. We went in another in direction,” he said. “It ended up being a short season, and we did a lot of things on the fly because we didn’t have time to practice. This summer was a busy summer for our organization in terms of being able to field guys I thought it reflected on me and what I’m about as a coach. The guys we brought in here were all defensive-minded guys who all knew how … [For more on Mike Woodson puts his stamp on New York Knicks, NBA A-Z, click here.]