Former Knicks Coaches Mike Woodson and Payne Praise Knicks Owner James Dolan
Published: Nov. 20, 2023, 7:48 p.m.
NEW YORK — Knicks owner James Dolan may have his share of critics in the basketball world, but he has found support from two former Knicks coaches who are now leading college teams.
Indiana head coach Mike Woodson expressed his gratitude towards Dolan during a post-game press conference on Monday. Woodson thanked Dolan for releasing him from his contract as an assistant with the Knicks when he was named head coach at his alma mater in 2021.
“I just want to give a shoutout to Jim Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, who came by to see me. It means a great deal to me because he was gracious enough to let me out of my contract to come home and coach this team,” Woodson said following his team’s 74-66 win over Louisville in the Empire Classic consolation game at Madison Square Garden.
Woodson, who had never coached at the college level before taking the Indiana job, has proven his doubters wrong. With a record of 48-27 and two NCAA Tournament appearances, Woodson has shown his ability to succeed in the college game.
“[Dolan] just wished me well, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. He was great for me. He really was,” Woodson added.
Payne, the Louisville coach and former Knicks assistant, also received a visit from Dolan and Knicks president Leon Rose. Despite Louisville’s recent struggles, Payne remains optimistic about his team’s potential.
“We’re close, we just gotta get over the hump,” Payne said. “I just talked to the owner of the Knicks and the president, and they both said in the two games we watched you play, y’all played hard, y’all are getting better. We see it.”
Although Louisville went 0-2 in the Empire Classic, guard Skyy Clark believes the team showed they can compete with top programs.
Meanwhile, Knicks vice president William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley was in attendance to watch UConn defeat Indiana in the first game. Wesley was likely scouting UConn’s 7-foot-2 sophomore Donovan Clingan, a projected lottery pick and key player for the defending national champion Huskies.
As the basketball season progresses, Dolan’s support for his former coaches continues to be appreciated. Despite the criticism he faces, Dolan’s actions speak louder than words, earning him the respect and admiration of those who have worked with him.
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