Upon being introduced as the Knicks’ 29th head coach in franchise history, David Fizdale sounded in awe of the history, but humbled to be a part of it moving forward.
“You can’t dream of this stuff,” he exclaimed at MSG on Tuesday morning. Immediately, he sounded like someone the fan base could get behind.
“The history of the Knicks, I don’t take that lightly. I take a lot of pride in that and will carry that,” he said. “I will roll up my sleeves and work tirelessly to rebuild this culture and give these guys a great opportunity to feel basketball success. Eventually, maybe we’ll all hold that trophy together.”
After impressing Steve Mills and Scott Perry during the interview process, Coach Fizdale continued to prove he could talk the talk in front of the media. But can he walk that walk? Time will tell, but he sounded eager to begin when discussing his desired style of play with this new squad.
“Coming here, I see athletes. I see speed. I see a physical toughness to us. I want to get up and down the court, share the basketball, and attack the paint,” the coach said. “But none of that will start without us being a great defensive team. We’re going to be a team that plays a pressure-physical style of basketball.”
Fizdale discussed his ups and downs in Memphis, including his adaptability when it came to getting all players involved offensively. He talked about the importance of getting touches for post players like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, all the while ensuring that Mike Conley had enough room to drive and go to work inside. Still, he was also quick to express humility when it came to his disconnect with Gasol. The two didn’t click. It’s something he can learn from, and Steve Mills pointed out that the former Grizzlies head coach’s ownership of that situation was something that drew this front office to him even more.
Fizdale’s relationship with Kristaps Porzingis is something that will be vital to this team’s success moving forward. The new Knicks coach acknowledged that he will head to Latvia to meet with the star big man, but perhaps that’ll be after he joins Mills and Perry for next week’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Still, the head coach has high hopes for teaming up with Porzingis.
“He’s the future of the NBA. If you look at the teams still competing in the playoffs, they all have guys who are super long, athletic, skilled, and super tough minded,” Fizdale said of Porzingis, adding that he could use him at both the four and five positions.
First impressions can only indicate so much before a coach gets started, but with talk of defense intensity, patience, development, and accountability, Fizdale seems well of aware at the task at hand facing him as New York’s new head coach.