After a 29-53 record last season, the Knicks have rebooted once again, naming David Fizdale as the team’s 11th head coach since 2001.
In the last 17 seasons, the Knicks won only one Atlantic Division title and have qualified for the playoffs three times.
The Knicks haven’t won the NBA Championship since 1973. The future of the Knicks is in the hands of a young coach with a career record of 50-51. Fizdale inherits a team that lost its star player, Kristaps Porzingis to an ACL tear.
New York Knicks Head Coaches (Since 2001)
Don Chaney (2001-04) 72-112
Herb Williams (2004) 1-0
Lenny Wilkens (2004-05) 40-41 + 0-4 playoffs
Herb Williams (2005) 16-27
Larry Brown (2005-06) 23 -59
Isaiah Thomas (2006-08) 56-108
Mike D’Antoni (2008-12) 121-167 + 0-4 playoffs
Mike Woodson (2012-14) 109-79 + 7-10 playoffs
Derek Fisher (2014-16) 40-96
Kurt Rambis (2016) 9-19
Jeff Hornacek (2016-18) 60-104
David Fizdale (2018-Present) 0-0
The Knicks have never been the same after head coach Jeff Van Gundy abruptly quit at the start of the 2001 season, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Since 2001, the Knicks are 557-821 and struggled due to a series of poor decisions. The Knicks brought in fading stars that were total busts (e.g. Carmelo Anthony). The Knicks experimented with different coaching philosophies and personalities including Brown, Isaiah Thomas, Mike D’Antoni, and Jeff Hornacek.
Even Phil Jackson, who won 2 championships with the Knicks as a player and 11 titles as a head coach, could not interject a winning culture during his short tenure.
David Fizdale lost the head coaching job in Memphis when he clashed with Marc Gasol and the management sided with the players instead of an interim-coach. Ftizdale was never given a chance to succeed in Memphis, but he got the most out of the Grizzlies in his short stint.
Fizdale became internet famous for his critical assessment of officiating in the 2017 playoffs when the veteran Spurs got favoritism over the upstart Grizzlies. Fizdale unleashed a rant for the ages including a catch phrase, “Take that for data!”, which became meme fodder.
1990s Golden Years
In 420 games as head coach between 1996 and 2001, Jeff Van Gundy compiled a record of 248-172 plus a 37-32 record in the playoffs.
Jeff Van Gundy got his start with the Knicks as Pat Riley’s assistant. When Don Nelson was fired in the middle of the 1996 season, Van Gundy took over.
Van Gundy was most known for his comical attempt at stopping a brawl during a Knicks/Heat playoff game.
9/11 and Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy’s college roommate and good friend, Farrell Lynch, died on 9/11 during the attack on the World Trade Center. Lynch worked in one of the twin towers for Cantor Fitzgerald.
Only 19 games into the 2001-02 season, Jeff Van Gundy abruptly resigned. Van Gundy expressed a drastic shift in his life focus and stepped away from coaching to spend time with his wife and daughter.
The Knicks just haven’t been the same since Jeff Van Gundy left the sidelines. Since 2001, the Knicks have a 7-18 postseason record with only 4 appearances.
Under head coach Mike Woodson, the Knicks to made consecutive postseason appearances in 2012 and 2013. The last time the Knicks won the Atlantic Division was the 2012-13 season.
The Phil Jackson Experiment
If team owner James Dolan persuaded Phil Jackson to coach the Knicks in the early 2000s instead of the Lakers, the Knicks would have had a couple of championship banners hanging from the rafters of MSG and fans over the five boroughs would be singing the praises of Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense.
But even Phil Jackson couldn’t break the curse.
By the time Jackson made it to NYC, he was burned. The Zen Master’s stint as GM was had gone busto.
MSG, Most Famous Arena in the World
Knicks were 19-22 at home last season at Madison Square Garden. MSG used to be the most feared arena in the NBA during the heyday of the 1990s-era Knicks. Last year’s Knicks did not break even on their own court during a disastrous season. If Ftizdale wants to drastically change the culture of the Knicks, it begins with re-establishing MSG as one of the hardest arenas to play in the league.