At the beginning of last season, few people outside of the New York Knicks organization knew who Mike Woodson was. He was the right-hand man to then head Coach Mike D’Antoni, and was given his chance to take over the team when D’Antoni stepped down midseason.
Woodson’s prior coaching career included holding the head coaching position with the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010, and prior to that was bounced around as an assistant coach for various teams.
A rocky relationship with superstar Carmelo Anthony, along with locker room friction amidst “Linsanity” last season, led to D’Antoni’s resignation. There was speculation that the Knicks would’ve fired the offensive minded coach if he didn’t step down on his own.
New York finished the season with Woodson, who took over on May 25th, on an 18-6 tear and finished up the season 36-30. The team was nearly swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of the play-offs, but proved that they could play with the NBA’s best.
The Knicks came into this season with the oldest roster in NBA history. Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert weren’t available for most of the time leading up to the All-Star break. Nonetheless, the Knicks came into this season on fire, going 21-9 over the first 30 games.
Currently, New York sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 44-26 record, along with the #3 spot in the Eastern Conference, having already clinched a play-off spot. Despite seemingly endless injuries to the team, with Stoudemire, Anthony, and Tyson Chandler all missing significant amounts of time, the Knicks have had a tremendous regular season, and will look to continue to shock the world as the venture into the play-offs.
I know cases could be made for other coaches to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year, but my vote would unquestionably go to Mike Woodson.