New York Knicks: Would Firing Mike Woodson Restore The Feeling?

By Richard Nurse
New York Knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the love that fans have been showing the Brooklyn Nets and their two-year-old arena, you would think that there would be some real backlash about them being tied for the fifth worst record in the NBA.

But there’s a reason they aren’t. And it was evident when the, then, New Jersey Nets went to back-to-back NBA Finals just for people to ask what’s going on with their big brothers across the bridge.

Now that they’re in the King’s County they seem to get the sympathy cheers of a backup quarterback — as evidenced by their usually uninspired crowd barely chanting to the piped in calls of “Brooklyn, Brooklyn.”

That’s because the Tri-State is and always will be the home of the New York Knicks. How else would you explain such disappointment in a team that has lower expectations than a squad with three Hall of Famers — two players and a coach — and five All-Stars in the starting lineup?

Which brings us to the “Fire Woodson” wave that has been floating from the streets of the Mecca through Madison Square Garden.

Knicks fans are smart enough to know that they have bigger problems than coach Mike Woodson. There’s the injury to Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith drifting in and out of sanity and Carmelo Anthony trying to single-handedly fire up shots. But, yes, Woodson should stomach a lot of the blame.

Mike Woodson
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since he took over the team in 2011, his offense has suffered from the same thing that plagued his Atlanta Hawks. It’s been nothing but isolation basketball that focuses on not much more than players perceived as the top two tossing up jumpers while everyone else watches. And he doesn’t seem to pressure them to stop. Just look at Smith’s 32-33 percent field goal shooting and 18-27 percent from the three the last two postseasons.

Woodson’s offense goes stale and every defense knows it. His streaky, veteran stars end up wearing themselves out and looking overpaid, a la Joe Johnson. And his Larry Brown-type hatred for younger players doesn’t help. It’s probably the reason that New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reported that third-year guard Iman Shumpert has fallen out of favor with his coach. It’s likely the same reason Woodson seemed to often forget his true best player in Atlanta, Al Horford.

So if the question is should Woodson be fired, the answer is yes. He’s nothing more than a second round coach and there is one out there (Lionel Hollins) that’s unemployed after taking his team to the Western Conference Finals. He also proved that he doesn’t mind getting in the face of his players to get his point across, and people around the league know it.

They’ve seen Hollins get into the face of his ex-Memphis Grizzles players on the bench and call out his management. He didn’t care if national television cameras were watching or not. And it’s probably a factor in why he was fired, but he got people in check.

That’s why Jerry Stackhouse went on ESPN’s First Take over the summer and described Hollins as the type of coach he wanted to play for because he wasn’t afraid to tell players that it’s his way and nothing else.

That’s an iron fist that the Knicks need. Then fans can stop pretending that they are suffering from the old plight of the Boston Red Sox — or the curse of James Dolan actually trading Patrick Ewing.

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Richard Nurse is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr or add him to your network on Google.

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