As expected, the Knicks signed Woodson to a multi-year contract Friday, apparently never showing any interest whatsoever in Phil Jackson, a member of their last title-winning team in 1973 who has won an NBA record 11 championships as a head coach.
Jackson likely would have been interested, as you can discern from reading this Mark Heisler column from earlier this season.
“Mike took over the team under challenging circumstances and made it clear, starting on day one, that he was going to hold every player on our roster accountable,” Knicks owner James Dolan said in a news release.. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”
Woodson, who had served as New York’s interim head coach since Mar. 14, 2012, guided the Knicks to an 18-6 regular-season mark and the franchise’s second consecutive playoff berth. Over the last 24 games of the regular season, the Knicks posted the second-best record in the NBA and the team’s defense ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed (91.8) and eighth in opponents’ field goal percentage (.440). Woodson became the first head coach in franchise history to win his first five games and posted the second-best winning percentage ever by an NBA coach who took over a team midseason.
“Mike has the respect of every person in this organization,” GM Glen Grunwald said. “He and his staff led the team in an impressive push into the playoffs over the last 24 games and we believe he is the right man to lead the franchise as we move forward.”
“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson said. “Our goal is to build off the success we had at the end of last season and to continue our quest of bringing an NBA Championship to Madison Square Garden.”
Woodson joined the organization as an assistant coach on Aug. 29, 2011 after six seasons as the head coach of Atlanta (2004-05 through 2009-10). He improved the Hawks win-loss record in each of those seasons, leading the franchise to the postseason in each of his final three years. Previously, he served eight seasons as an assistant coach with Milwaukee (1996-97 through 1998-99), Cleveland (1999-2000 through 2000-01), Philadelphia (2001-02 through 2002-03) and the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons (2003-04).