Former New York Knicks head coach Pat Riley had a hand in the decision to hire David Fizdale and this should get fans excited.
Despite Pat Riley’s controversial departure from the New York Knicks to the Miami Heat way back in 1995, his influence still holds sway in New York. According to a report from Marc Berman of the New York Post, team president Steve Mills reached out to Riley to find out more about David Fizdale. Mills told Berman:
“I asked him a lot of questions. ‘What do you think David’s learned from his experience in Miami to his experiences in Memphis?’ Pat had some real insight, what he left with Miami and planned on instilling in Memphis, what went wrong and how he came back to fix it. Pat was very open about the conversations he had with David and gave a us a lot of faith about him having learned from the experience.’’
Riley’s endorsement of Fizdale likely played a crucial role in Mills and general manager Scott Perry’s decision to make Fizdale their guy.
And for Fizdale, having a mentor like Riley can never be a bad thing. Riley has had success throughout his career as a coach and an executive. There aren’t many guys in the league who stack up to Riley’s body of work. Fizdale spoke about his relationship with Riley and he told Berman:
“Pat was one of the ones who spoke to me as much as anybody, took time to check on me,’’ Fizdale said. “He gave me advice through the process. Nobody was more happy than him when I got this — one of his guys here coming back, taking this challenge. I’m sure right now he’s pretty proud.”
The main thing that should excite fans about this story is the fact that one of the main reasons that Fizdale lost the locker room in Memphis was because he came on a little too strong. A culture change in Memphis was going to be difficult considering the success the roster had before Fizdale arrived. The Knicks should be much more receptive to a culture change considering the young roster and the consecutive losing seasons.
Fans would be thrilled to see Fizdale employ some of the same strategies that Riley’s Knicks used in the mid-90s. Of course, the game has changed and they couldn’t be quite as physical, but they can certainly place an emphasis on defense. Mixing some of that old-school defensive mentality with a new-age analytics approach on offense would be too good to be true.
So far, so good with David Fizdale.