Today, Monday April 21, 2014, we say goodbye to a dear friend. He left behind his only son, Earl Smith Jr. and will be missed. Mike Woodson came to us as an assistant coach to help Mike D’Antoni believe in defense. When that didn’t work, our front office decided to make Woody the head coach because J.R. and Rasheed Wallace loved him. The Knicks went 18-6 after he took over, but quickly lost to Miami in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs because Amar’e fought a fire extinguisher case after Game 2 and ruined his left hand. 2013 was better. Or, maybe, it was just different. J.R. had a career year, and Mike led us to a 54-win season and the No. 2 seed in the East. The Knicks were back. Then everything fell apart in the first round. Yeah, we beat the Celtics, however, J.R. was suspended for elbowing Jason Terry, and his confidence was in the dumps when Rihanna called him thirsty on Instagram. We fell to the Pacers in six games. Silver lining: We were back to being a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately the Knicks gon’ Knick. James Dolan took a break from singing the blues and fired Glen Grunwald, the architect of a 50-win team. Dolan then appointed Steve Mills, a former cohort of his from the Isiah Thomas Era, and then traded a first round pick for Andrea Bargnani.
This spelled the end for Mike Woodson, a man with so many offensive weapons and so little offensive imagination. He plead for his job, saying he was the right man for it when Phil Jackson made his triumphant return to the Mecca. But with a slim chance of making the postseason, Woody and his boys fell short, winning just 37 games in a weak conference and subsequently giving the Denver Nuggets a lottery pick by missing the playoffs.
Now he’s gone for good along with the entire coaching staff, including Herb Williams (not Herb, man!). Mike Woodson will forever be remembered for his Mr. Potato Head facial expressions, his love of isolation basketball, and his delusional post game interviews. Goodbye, good friend. The ride was fun. You gave us unexpected hope and we’ll never forget it. Good luck in the next life. May it be filled with ball movement and Conference Finals appearances. You will be missed but now it’s time to let the Zen do its thing.
Photo credit: Trey Kerby
Angel Diaz is a life-long Knicks fan. Cry with him on Twitter (@ADiaz456)