New York Knicks David Fizdale
Spencer Hazen, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

David Fizdale is the current beneficiary of a honeymoon phase that former New York Knicks employees know all too well. But how long will his honeymoon with the fans last?

The New York Knicks and David Fizdale seem like a match made in heaven. He’s a young coach that is already connecting with his players. He’s saying and doing all of the right things publicly. And let’s not forget that he’s going to lure LeBron James to New York.

That third claim is dripping with sarcasm, but the first two are certainly valid. His introductory press conference went well. Fizdale took three of his young players to the Eastern Conference Finals so they could get a feel for the atmosphere. He even threw out the first pitch at a Yankee game! By all accounts, things are looking up for the organization.

There aren’t many reasons for Knicks fans to be pessimistic right now, but that’s the great part about the honeymoon phase. Things seem great because nothing has gone wrong—yet.

Skepticism is too strong of a word, but cautious optimism sounds like the right approach. To be clear, this cautious optimism isn’t an indictment of Fizdale, Scott Perry, or Steve Mills. Rather, it’s an indictment on the New York Knicks brand and Jim Dolan. Knowing the organization and the recent history of “slam dunk” hires should give Knicks fans pause about Fizdale.

Phil Jackson was seen as the savior of the organization and the man who could finally set things right in Madison Square Garden. The famously smug Jackson is now out of basketball and presumably enjoying his retirement and his sizeable buyout. Derek Fisher was brought in as Jackson’s protégé and he would implement the vaunted Triangle Offense that was sure to lead to multiple rings. After embarrassing the Knicks on and off the court, Fisher was fired during his second season after amassing a record of 40-96.

Prior to that, Mike D’Antoni was going to come into New York and revolutionize New York’s offense. After butting heads with Carmelo Anthony, D’Antoni resigned. Now he’s revolutionizing Houston’s offense and very nearly upset the Warriors in this year’s Western Conference Finals.

And prior to D’Antoni, the Knicks hired one of the all-time great coaches in Larry Brown. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the answer to that question is simply, Isiah Thomas.

The social media echo chambers of Facebook and Twitter can’t get enough of Fizdale right now. Every little thing he seems to do is applauded—loudly. “Finally, we have a competent head coach who will set things right,” seems to be the sentiment among many fans. You may be right—but history has this terrible habit of repeating itself.

The moral of this story is that we’ve seen this song and dance before. The new regime is preaching patience and a long-term plan. New Yorkers aren’t typically known for their patience, but maybe this will be different. Right now, all is well in Knicksland, but it likely won’t stay this way forever.

To be fair, Fizdale hasn’t done anything to warrant any serious criticism yet. But we’re all too smart to be anything other than cautiously optimistic moving forward.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting that the article indicates that Mike D’Antoni was the coach prior to Derek Fisher. What happened to Mike Woodson and the success that he had during his tenure as head coach. An oversight?

    • I was looking more at the “slam dunk” hires made in recent years. Woodson was the interim coach and then the interim tag was removed during the 2012 offseason. For sure, Woodson’s been the most successful Knicks coach since Jeff Van Gundy, but his hiring was not one that energized the fan base or made big headlines like Brown, D’Antoni, Jackson, or Fisher. Hornacek and Woodson were similar in that way. This Fizdale hiring feels much more like the Brown and D’Antoni hirings in the sense that many feel the Knicks are finally getting the guy who is destined to turn the team around.