David Fizdale appears to take shot at Nets players over Atkinson firing
David Fizdale can empathize with Kenny Atkinson’s situation, and now he is implying that the former Brooklyn Nets head coach did not have enough support from his players.
In an recent appearance on ESPN Radio, the ex-New York Knicks coach Fizdale gave his opinion on the firing of Atkinson in Brooklyn.
“When it comes to players with power, your front office has to really be strong and your culture has to be strong to weather disgruntled players,” Fizdale said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “And you have to have a certain amount of support for your coach so when things get turbulent.”
Fizdale also added that Atkinson’s firing was even more gutting than his own dismissal by the Knicks in December.
“It’s a punch to the gut to see a colleague like that who went through the mud with the organization and really started with the foundation and really helped build the team to where it is,” Fizdale said. “It as a kick in the stomach to hear that. Even more than my situation. I was 4-18. I can take it. I’m a big boy. But I think to see Kenny under the circumstances, they were seventh seed in the East, he had taken that team from a lot of Ls to now a team that was starting to become a regular in the playoffs … And to see that happen so abruptly, when it happened, the way it happened, it was a kick in the stomach.”
Indeed, Atkinson was surprisingly let go in the middle of his fourth season in charge despite the Nets being on the upswing with an injury-depleted roster and coming off their first playoff appearance since 2015. He was also one of the longer-tenured head coaches in the Eastern Conference, behind only Erik Spoelstra, Brad Stevens, and Brett Brown.
There were reports that some of Brooklyn’s stars had a hand in the firing, and Fizdale seems to think that his fellow coach got undeservingly snaked here.