20 People who turned their backs on the New York Knicks

The New York Knicks have a troubled past.
New York Knicks, Pat Riley
New York Knicks, Pat Riley / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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Jeff Van Gundy

In 1989, Jeff Van Gundy joined the Knicks as an assistant coach. After Don Nelson was fired in March 1996, Van Gundy took his place. When Van Gundy took over, New York was 34-25, and he guided the team to a 13-10 record to close out the regular season. 

Under Van Gundy, the Knicks made the playoffs yearly and even went to the NBA Finals in 1999. In 2001, New York reached the Eastern Conference Finals but came up short against Indiana. The 2001-02 season didn't yield as much success, as the Knicks were ousted in the first round of the playoffs. In the following season, everything started to fall apart.

At that point, New York was 10-9 and had won five of its last six games, so it’s not as if the Knicks were struggling and Van Gundy was feeling the pressure. Instead, he said the team had lost their intensity and that he had “lost focus” as their leader. 

Van Gundy has since admitted that quitting was the wrong decision and that he regrets it.

"I quit the Knicks so I know what quitting is," Van Gundy said in an interview with "The Michael Kay Show." "I did. I quit. And it's something I regret to this day. I live with it every day and I regret it. And I let my emotions come into it. And I was just emotionally spent. I made a bad decision and I quit."

Jeff Van Gundy, via ESPN

His departure marked the beginning of a dark period for New York. The Knicks went from being a regular face in the postseason to the laughingstock of the NBA. Van Gundy doesn’t deserve the sole blame for that, but turning his back on the Knicks did contribute to the organization hitting rock bottom. 

Unfortunately for Van Gundy, he was laid off by ESPN in 2023. He now works as a senior consultant for the Celtics, one of the Knicks’ most hated rivals. The betrayal continues!