NEW YORK – The New York Knicks hired Derek Fisher as their new coach on June 10, with Phil Jackson turning to one of his most trustworthy former players.
Just days after finishing his 18th season, Fisher was chosen to replace Mike Woodson, who Jackson fired after the regular season in his first major move as team President.
Fisher won five championships playing for Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers and was known for his knack for hitting clutch postseason shots while playing an NBA-record 259 playoff games. Jackson says “it has come clear to me” that he and Fisher can form a great partnership again, listing some of the coaches the 39-year-old Fisher played under — though leaving out himself.
“Derek has a long, laundry list of coaches that he’s worked under and had a tremendous amount of success and we welcome him,” Jackson said during a news conference at the Knicks’ training center in Greenburgh, New York.
The Knicks went 37-45 and missed the playoffs, just a year after winning the Atlantic Division and advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jackson, who declined an original offer to coach the team, was instead hired to run the front office in March, and fired Woodson the week after the season ended.
He was seeking someone familiar with the triangle offense and someone with little or no coaching experience that he could teach. The Knicks nearly closed a deal to hire Steve Kerr, who instead left a TV commentating job to coach the Golden State Warriors.
Jackson turned his attention to Fisher, even getting fined $25,000 last week when he was too open about his interest in the point guard who was still under contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 39-year-old Fisher was respected among players around the league as he was the President of the players association during the 2011 lockout.
The Knicks have had nowhere near the success of Fisher or Jackson, but their new coach believes they can. “We know without a doubt that we can re-establish what that means, what that is,” Fisher said.(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)