New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale has made a concerted effort to connect with his players. Emmanuel Mudiay already sees the impact.
The New York Knicks are in the incomparably crucial process of finding a new identity. New York has spent nearly 20 years sacrificing team-building for even the slightest measure of instant gratification, and has thus struggled to sustain its criminally rare success.
Thankfully, recently hired head coach David Fizdale is already making changes that could go a long way towards redefining the culture.
One of the primary knocks against the Knicks of the James Dolan era is that those in a position of power have been unable to build healthy relationships with the players. It’s a truth that’s haunted the Knicks both on and off the court.
"“It’s like night and day to be honest. You could just see people having confidence in themselves. And Fiz did a great job connecting with the players. Not only him but his coaching staff.”"
That may or may not be a parting shot at Jeff Hornacek, but what truly matters is that Mudiay and the Knicks are building towards something healthy and sustainable.
Fizdale took Damyean Dotson, Mudiay, and Frank Ntilikina to Game 5 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals. He’s held a voluntary workouts that were attended by many of the younger players on the roster—all of whom are looking for answers about their respective futures.
That’s an especially encouraging sign considering Porzingis is preparing to play for his fourth coach in as many seasons.
Only time will tell how Fizdale’s relationships with the players will hold up over the course of an 82-game season. He may be the most important person in the organization, however, as the Knicks simply can’t afford to go through another head coach.
Thankfully, the players are already responding warmly to Fizdale, who has earned praise in the past for his ability to connect with the modern athlete.
The New York Knicks still have areas of uncertainty, but leadership is off to an excellent start to the 2018 offseason.