David Fizdale is not the Dark Knight, but he very well may be the hero the Knicks need.
Yesterday, Fizdale was officially introduced as the next head basketball coach of the New York Knicks. Fizdale said everything you want to hear as a fan. Excitement, defense, and “ready to get to work” were echoed throughout the introduction. Press conferences have become a symbol of false hope for Knicks fans in recent years. Just a few years ago, Phil Jackson was named President of the Knicks, which was supposed to be a shift towards competing in the Eastern Conference. Instead, it brought turmoil, bad contracts, and disappointment to a franchise that has become synonymous with disfunction for almost two decades.
However, this feels different. As a fan, for the first time in awhile, I can honestly say the Knicks did the right thing in hiring Fizdale. Instead of going with inexperienced coaches who showed flashes of potential (Fisher, Hornacek), the Knicks went with a young but well-respected coach who has proven he can win in this league. During his 8 seasons as an assistant for the Miami Heat, Fizdale was an integral part in a team that went to the NBA Finals four straight years with two championships to show for it. Although his time in Memphis was short, Fizdale did post a winning record and playoff appearance in his only full season with the team.
The only potential red flag on Fizdale’s resume was his clash with Marc Gasol, which probably lead to his dismal as the head coach. It was a classic case of “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” However, Fizdale has taken full responsibility for his actions, which is something you want to see from a coach who was fired.
Besides the Gasol blemish, Fizdale has earned a reputation as a player’s coach and one who can develop players to fit today’s NBA. The days of the sit-in-the-post 4 and 5 are over. Fizdale developed Chris Bosh into a true stretch 4 who can shoot 3s and defend the perimeter. Fizdale did the same with Gasol, who averaged 3.6 and 4.4 attempted 3s per game these past two seasons. Before Fizdale, Gasol’s highest avergage of attempted 3s per game was 0.2. Fizdale’s ability to adapt and get the most out of players has earned the respect of the world’s best player, LeBron James.
It’s hard to get excited over a new coach because the Knicks have been allergic to stability in the 21st century. Fizdale is the 11th Knicks head coach since Jeff Van Gundy resigned in 2001-2002. With all that being said, fans can’t help but get excited for a coach that has a proven track record and a stamp of approval from LeBron James.
Coach Fizdale, get to work and become the hero of Gotham.