NEW YORK – Knicks owner James Dolan may have his share of enemies in the basketball world, but he has some big fans among the head coaches at Indiana and Louisville – both of whom are former Knicks coaches.
Indiana head coach Mike Woodson began his postgame press conference Monday by thanking Dolan for releasing him from his assistant contract with the Knicks when he was named head coach. head of his alma mater in 2021.
“I just want to say hello to Jim Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, who came to see me, which means a lot to me, because he was kind enough to let me out of my contract to come home and coach this team” , Woodson said after his team’s 74-66 victory over Louisville in the Empire Classic consolation game at Madison Square Garden.
“I have nothing but love and respect for this man because he is special, special to me.”
Before accepting the Indiana job, Woodson, now 65, had never coached at the college level and had been an NBA player or coach since being drafted 12th overall by the Knicks in the 1980 NBA Draft. He coached the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2010 and the Knicks from 2012 to 2014 with five total playoff appearances. There were many doubts about his results at the university level.
At Indiana, he was 48-27 with two NCAA Tournament appearances.
“(Dolan) just wished me luck, I wouldn’t expect anything less from him,” Woodson said. “He’s been great for me. He really was.
Want to bet on college basketball?
See the Best Sports Betting Sites in New Jersey
Dolan and Knicks president Leon Rose also visited with Payne, the Louisville coach and former Knicks assistant who was hired by his alma mater in 2022.
Payne mentioned the visit after his team lost its second straight game at the Garden and fell to 3-2 on the season. Louisville went 4-28 in Payne’s first season a year ago.
“We’re close, we just have to get over the hump,” Payne said. “I just talked to the Knicks owner and the president, and they both said in the two games we’ve seen you play, you’ve all been playing hard, you’re all getting better. We’re seeing it.
“I need this to translate to W, I need this team to understand that winning matters, making winning plays, every little thing in a game matters. Don’t take moments for granted, don’t take seconds for granted.
Said Louisville guard Skyy Clark, a former Kentucky commit who led the Cardinals with 19 points: “Even though we went 0-2, I think we showed we can compete with some of the best teams in the country .”
Meanwhile, Knicks vice president William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley was on the court Sunday to watch UConn beat Indiana in Game 1.
The defending national champion Huskies feature projected lottery pick Donovan Clingan, a 7-foot-2 sophomore.
Thank you for counting on us to provide you with the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting us with a subscription.
Adam Zagoria is a freelance reporter who covers Seton Hall and NJ college basketball for NJ Advance Media. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamZagoria and check out his website at ZAGSBLOG.com.
Gn En sports