Head Coach: Red Holzman
- Stats from 1967 to 1982 (14 Seasons as Coach):
- 613 – 484 W/L Record, .559 Win. % (Regular Season) / .557 Win. % (Postseason), 2X NBA Champion, 3X Eastern Conference Champion
While Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy lead a revival at The Garden as Knicks head coaches in the 1990s, the pair was merely mimicking a blueprint put into fruition decades before by Red Holzman, a relative failure with the now defunct Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks, who, during Holzman’s time, never finished above .500 despite leading them to the postseason once.
Similar to Joe Torre coming to the New York Yankees after middling seasons as manager of the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals to lead the Bombers to glory four times in the late ’90s and early ’00s, Holzman came to the Knicks with very few expectations, but went on a seven-year run (he joined the Knicks midway through the 1967-1968 campaign) in which the Knicks were 348-189, winning games at a .646 clip, with two NBA championships and a 60-win season to his credit.
Many NBA acolytes of today gush over head coach Gregg Popovich’s ability to turn the San Antonio Spurs into an offensive juggernaut predicated on crisp passing and selfless team play, but it was Red Holzman who preached the same fundamentals decades earlier.
Just as Popovich utilized this style of play to pick apart a superstar roster like the 2013-2014 Miami Heat (and nearly did it in successive years, if not for a late miracle scoring run capped off by a wild Ray Allen three in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals), Holzman did the same, twice to the Los Angeles Lakers, lead by Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West in 1970 and Chamberlain and West in 1973.
Holzman’s Knicks, lead by a slew of Hall of Famers and All-Stars both on this list (Reed, Frazier, Monroe, DeBusschere, and Bradley) and not on this list (Cazzie Russell, Dick Barnett, and Jerry Lucas), moved to a hardwood symphony rooted in phrases like “Move the ball,” and “Find the open man,” doing so with the style and grace instilled in them by the late, legendary Hall of Fame coach from Brooklyn, who won the NBA Coach of the Year in his finest season (1970), when the Knicks began 23-1, the best start in NBA history, and won a then-record 18 games straight en route to a title earned in grit, hard work, and flawless team play for which Holzman is still lauded.