David Fizdale is now the head coach of the New York Knicks and is already saying he wants LeBron James to join him. Fizdale has a good relationship with LeBron, but there should be a serious concern if any other player not named LeBron should even want to play for Fizdale.
This is a result of the way Fizdale treated Marc Gasol and the rest of the players in Memphis. According to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports, Fizdale did not care about the already established “Grit n Grind” brand, he instead wanted the vibe around the team to be about him.
Fizdale also appeared to rub the locker room the wrong way with his aggressive presence:
“The coach went around the locker room asking each player if he believed he could win a championship. If they lacked belief, they didn’t belong on the Grizzlies.”
The team’s best player Marc Gasol stuck up for the team telling Fizdale “No. We don’t have the right leader.” Fizdale did not sit back and take it: “I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James.”
It wasn’t just the coaching style that resulted in the player-coach rift, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report reports that Fizdale actually diminished the accompaniments of Gasol in addition:
“He literally said to Marc Gasol, ‘I know what real championships are, not that fake stuff in Europe,” … “That Euro championship stuff doesn’t cut it.’”
Telling your most notable player that his accolades are not real because they happened in the player’s native continent makes it nearly impossible to see Fizdale as a coach that is desirable to play for.
Apparently, Fizdale knows all because he won two championships, as he pointed out to Gasol because he has zero. It seems unlikely at this point that he reminded Gasol he won them as an assistant coach. However, the other players knew it: “The general feeling among the Grizzlies was that Fizdale’s two championships as an assistant coach in Miami were because of LeBron James.”
Fizdale comes across as a coach that makes his player feel unworthy of him unless they are LeBron James. And given that there are not very many LeBrons and the chances of him coming to New York are slim to none, why would anyone want to play for him?
The Knicks have always been a team that has the goal to attract star free agents, and this hire should not help those matters one bit. It is not hard to envision a scenario in which Fizdale and Kristaps Porziņģis are butting heads.
Things have been bad in New York for a long time, and this hire doesn’t seem to be the answer.