Between one of my best friend’s son’s fifth birthday party and the women’s volleyball gold medal game, was an interesting and enjoyable profile of Mike Woodson that I consumed on a complete summer Saturday. Full disclosure, I remember Woodson the player, although I don’t remember Woodson the Knick and the Knight Hoosiers of the 70s are before my time as my day-to-day college basketball memory begins with Ewing’s Hoyas.
The off season started with what I thought was a no-brainer hire in Phil Jackson for so many reasons. If people want to complain about Carmelo Anthony and his faults while wondering if he were a championship caliber player then Jackson would have provided the answer. If the Knicks want to match the heat off the court and their biggest advantage, Pat Riley, Jackson would have provided the solution in my opinion.
James Dolan decided to reward Mike Woodson for his regular season success, which saw Carmelo Anthony win the Eastern Conference player of the Month in April and despite a very underwhelming performance plagued by injuries in the playoffs against the heat. Amazingly, he didn’t even interview anyone else for the coaching position.
As I was watching and learning more about Woodson and his basketball life several things were clear and MSG hammered them home to a fault. Woodson is a Bob Knight disciple. Woodson learned not only basketball lessons but life lessons from Knight and The General is most definitely the biggest influence on Mike Woodson the man in the world of basketball.
The second thing is Woodson ability to hold players accountable. This is something I keep hearing, but holding players accountable in the NBA can often be misconstrued as semantics. Let’s face it, the majority of NBA players have listening problems. I will believe Woodson holds players accountable when he yanks J.R. Smith when he spazzes some over-dribble pull backs. I will believe him when he sits Carmelo early if his motor is stalled and Amar’e late if he continually forgets that rebounding at the end of games wins titles then explains to the media that’s why he did it.
And forget the players for a second, I want Woodson, himself, to hold, well, himself accountable and throw in a little zone once in a while. It was an egregious mistake against the heat but one that often goes unnoticed because of the injuries to Shumpert, Davis and of course Stoudemire. That said, a 3-1 playoff loss brings Woodson’s playoff record to…well, it’s not good.
However, as the Woodson profile rolled along I found myself really starting to like it and the man himself. I know a lot of coaches and the best are married to the game. Absolutely. It’s why I stopped. You could hear the angst in Woodson’s voice when talked about how he was away for the game for a year. It’s an obsession. It’s life. And you can tell that winning a championship is Woodson’s main passion, drive and focus. He’s no nonsense, he’s demanding, and he preaches accountability.
Sounds a lot like Tom Coughlin doesn’t it?
The table has been set and the talent is there. Now, if Woodson can stick to the script and believe in his message and trust his assistant coaches, including Darrell Walker who I’m a huge fan of, then the Knicks can do big things and they better because there simply won’t be any grace period from fans.
Fair or unfair, the pressure is on Woodson to lead the Knicks to their first Division title in nearly two decades.