Wilkens resigns as head coach of Knicks
New York, NY (Sports Network) – New York Knicks head coach Lenny Wilkens
announced his resignation on Saturday. Meanwhile, team president Isiah Thomas
named assistant coach and former Knicks player Herb Williams as the new
Wilkens’ decision was reportedly made after a meeting with Thomas following
Friday’s heartbreaking 92-91 loss to the Houston Rockets at Madison Square
“There are very few people in the sports world or in society that combine
great talent with class, dignity and humility,” said Thomas. “But these
qualities have been Lenny’s trademark throughout his Hall-of-Fame life and
career. He agreed to come to New York last season during an extremely
difficult time, and his presence played a major role in reconnecting the
Knicks to the pride of this city. On behalf of everyone in the entire Knicks
organization, I want to thank Lenny for his commitment to this team and
express our deep disappointment we are losing a great coach.”
Wilkens, who still has two years and $10 million left on his contract, is both
the winningest and losingest coach in NBA history, going 1,332-1,155 in 32
seasons with Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto and New York. This
marks the first time in his legendary coaching career that he has stepped down
or been fired in mid-season.
The 67-year-old Wilkens guided the Knicks to a 23-19 record last season and
took them to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. New York was then
swept by New Jersey in the first round.
Williams takes over a beleaguered Knicks team that has dropped five straight
and nine of its last 10, while falling five games under .500 (17-22) and
into third place in the weak Atlantic Division.
“We are pleased to give Herb Williams this opportunity to be the
head coach of the New York Knicks, and we’ll do everything we can to help
him succeed. We are confident that we can continue to give our fans the kind
of competitive basketball they expect and deserve,” added Thomas.
Williams, an assistant on the Knicks bench since December 29, 2001, has been
with the organization since his playing days, starting in 1992. Now in his
fourth season as a coach and 11th season overall in New York, the 46-year-old
Columbus, OH native was credited with a regular-season win as head coach on
January 14 of last season, one day prior to Wilkens’ arrival in New York.
“While it is an honor and privilege to be named as the head coach of this
storied franchise, there is still a lot work that needs to get done to
continue to point our team in the right direction,” Williams said. “The
opportunity that has been given to me by Isiah is one that I will cherish
for the rest of my career.”