Knicks introduce Wilkens as new head coach
New York, NY (Sports Network) – The New York Knicks introduced Lenny Wilkens
as their new head coach at a Thursday afternoon press conference. Wilkens
becomes the 21st head coach in franchise history and replaces Don Chaney, who
was fired prior to Wednesday’s game against Orlando.
Assistant coaches Brendan Malone and Lon Kruger were also sent packing. Herb
Williams, an assistant under Chaney, guided the club to a 120-110 victory
over the Magic.
Wilkens will make his New York coaching debut on Friday when the Knicks host
the Seattle SuperSonics.
“You have very few opportunities in your career to be able to bring in one of
the greatest players and coaches in NBA history, and we are very excited to be
able to do that today by hiring Lenny Wilkens,” team president Isiah Thomas
said. “His experience and leadership skills as both a player and a coach will
be invaluable as we battle to get the franchise back to its proper place at
the top of the NBA.”
Wilkens is the all-time winningest NBA coach with 1,292 victories. Under
Wilkens, the SuperSonics won the NBA championship in 1979. Wilkens, whose
record is 1,292-1,114, has also coached Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta and
Toronto. He is one of just two coaches to lead four different teams to 100
“If you enjoy something, do it! And I really enjoy working with today’s
talented young players,” Wilkens said. “And not only that, I’m here working
for the Knicks! It’s tremendous! I’m overwhelmed! So I’m going to do it —
coach, that is — as long as I can.”
In 1996, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Atlanta
Games. He mutually agreed to leave his position as head coach of the Toronto
Raptors after the 2002-03 season after three years at the helm. This will be
his 31st season as a head coach in the NBA.
Chaney had guided the Knicks to just a 15-24 mark this season and a 72-112
record since taking over for Jeff Van Gundy on December 10, 2001. He had come
under heavy scrutiny of late and was serenaded by fans at home with loud
chants of “fire Chaney.”
Chaney, who joined the Knicks’ coaching staff in August 1995, was in his
fourth head coaching stint. He won NBA Coach of the Year honors by leading the
1990-91 Houston Rockets to a 52-30 mark.