Sunday’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies carried some special significance for New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale.
In what was Fizdale’s first game back in Memphis since being fired by the Grizzlies, the Knicks came out on top by the final of 103-98. After the contest, Fizdale’s players gave him a surprise celebratory ice bath, and it led to the veteran coach getting a little emotional.
“My suit is ruined,” said Fizdale, per the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. “Emmanuel [Mudiay] came up to me, him and Tim [Hardaway Jr.) both, were just hugging me and telling me it was for me. And then they all came in and I lost it [crying].”
“I know I took it personal,” Mudiay was also quoted as saying. “Actually all of us took it personal. We wanted to come out here and get a win for him.”
Fizdale served as Grizzlies head coach for two seasons from 2016 until his sudden dismissal 19 games into the 2017-18 campaign. He then took the rest of the year off before signing a four-year deal to coach the Knicks last May.
The 44-year-old coach had some memorable moments in Memphis, but the revenge factor had to make his return on Sunday that much sweeter.
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New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale appeared to have a noteworthy miscommunication with his best player this week, but he insists the confusion has been cleared up.
Kristaps Porzingis is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season, and Fizdale told reporters earlier this week that the big man is at the stage in his rehab where he has been able to do some light running but no sprinting. Hours after Fizdale made the remarks, Porzingis shared the following photos on his Instagram story:
“ porzingis hasn’t ran since surgery” …….porzingis- pic.twitter.com/68xv2FKnYV
— (@WoodinNYK) November 9, 2018
That was an obvious response to what Fizdale told the media, and the coach admitted on Friday that he was unaware Porzingis had been running sprints. He said he believes the former No. 4 overall pick was frustrated that people thought his rehab was progressing slowly.
David Fizdale said he wasn't aware that Kristaps Porzingis has been sprinting. He spoke to Porzingis about it today and said they are on the same page and in a good place.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 9, 2018
David Fizdale said he thought Kristaps Porzingis’ Instagram post was a result of frustration over the perception that he wasn’t working hard during his ACL rehab. “He took it personally. It got to him that people would think that.” Again, Fizdale and Porzingis spoke this morning.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 9, 2018
It still remains unclear when Porzingis will return, but he obviously wants the world to know he is making progress. While there has been plenty of talk about him sitting out the entire season, the latest report sounded a bit more optimistic.
Dwyane Wade presented a parting gift to an old friend who made his return to Miami as the head coach of the New York Knicks.
Wade is in his last season in the NBA, giving him one last opportunity to compete against friends he’s made over his Hall of Fame career. On Wednesday, the Knicks visited Miami for a game against the Heat. New York is coached by David Fizdale, who spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Heat prior to getting his first head coaching opportunity with the Memphis Grizzlies.
After Wednesday’s game, which Miami won 110-87, Wade presented Fizdale with a signed No. 3 Heat jersey.
The Knicks lose to the Heat by 22 tonight in their first blowout loss of the season. They’ve dropped four in a row after beating Atlanta in the opener. It was David Fizdale’s first game in Miami as Knicks head coach. After the game, Dwyane Wade gave Fizdale a signed jersey. pic.twitter.com/RF3mJ2K9Pk
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 25, 2018
Fizdale was popular with the players during his time in Miami, especially Wade. When he was fired by the Grizzlies, Wade and LeBron James voiced their displeasure on social media.
David Fizdale is trying to start his tenure as New York Knicks head coach on the right note.
Fizdale said during an ESPN broadcast that he and his wife are set to visit with Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia in two weeks.
David Fizdale says in an interview on the ESPN broadcast of Knicks-Lakers that he and his wife are scheduled to visit Kristaps Porzingis and his family in Latvia on July 23.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 11, 2018
Porzingis is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL and might not be ready for action until midway through next season. Despite that, the 22-year-old versatile big man is viewed as the cornerstone of the team. He has improved each season since being drafted in 2015 and averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. The 7-foot-3 big man also drained an impressive 1.9 three-pointers per game.
The two reportedly had a “great conversation” after Fizdale was hired as the team’s new head coach, although Fiz was recently roasted for an odd suggestion he made.
One of the main reasons David Fizdale was fired as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies last season was that he was not getting along with Marc Gasol, but the three-time NBA All-Star does not feel responsible for the way things ended.
In an interview with Robert Alvarez of the Spanish media outlet El Pais, Gasol opened up about the Grizzlies’ miserable 22-60 season. He also addressed reports that he pressured Memphis’ front office to fire Fizdale.
“My conflict is between my desire to win and my loyalty to Memphis. Memphis believes that I am part of the solution, not the problem,” Gasol said, as translated by Dionysis Aravantinos of EuroHoops.net. “It was part of a learning experience. When looking for a change, you need to find the cause. It occurred in a way that maybe was not the desired one. Thinking about it now, I would have acted differently, but I remain calm. In the end, a business of so many millions of dollars is not decided by one player. The relationship between a player and a coach was not the best in the world … you are right.”
Fizdale was fired just 19 games into the 2017-18 season, and there were indications that he had lost the locker room. Things seemed to come to a boil when Gasol was benched for the fourth quarter of a bad loss, which is something the 33-year-old alluded to.
“We came to losing eight games in a row. They fired him after a game in which I didn’t play in the last quarter,” Gasol said. “I ended with a sensation that I didn’t like and that I wanted to turn it over. Obviously, they focus on you. But it is a situation that you have to live and stay calm with. I wasn’t playing at a good level either. I was saying to myself, ‘Damn, I cant go through this.’ That was what worried me the most, above public opinion.”
One particularly alarming exchange between Fizdale and Gasol was when the big man reportedly told the coach he did not think the Grizzlies had enough to win a championship because they lacked leadership. Gasol indicated that is not how things unfolded.
“It was not like that. Far from it,” he said. “Respecting the conversations in the locker rooms is always critical. Understand how to keep quiet and let things happen. It is important to keep one’s principles firm and always to put them over everything. I will not go out and say what happened, for these exact reasons.”
Fizdale is said to have received a pretty impressive endorsement before the New York Knicks hired them to be their next head coach, so his tarnished relationship with Gasol didn’t end up being too costly. Gasol has spent his entire NBA career with Memphis, so you can understand why he is tired of losing. Time will tell if Fizdale was part of the problem.
New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis has spoken with his new coach about the direction of the team, and the big man apparently likes where things are heading.
On Thursday, Porzingis made his first public comments about the Knicks hiring David Fizdale, and he seems quite pleased.
Just had a great conversation on the phone with Coach Fiz. Man im excited!!!!! Lets gooo!!!
— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) May 24, 2018
If you remember, Porzingis skipped his exit interview last season because he was unhappy with Phil Jackson. There were also rumblings that he was “disgusted” with his former head coach’s coaching style, so it’s a good sign for the Knicks that Porzingis approves of the Fizdale hiring.
Ironically, the health of Porzingis is probably more of a wild card heading into next year than how Fizdale will adapt to his new job. Porzingis suffered a torn ACL back in February, and the timeline for his recovery is not yet clear. One Knicks legend has already predicted that Porzingis will not play at all next season.
If the New York Knicks believe they have any shot at signing LeBron James this summer, it makes sense that they would want a head coach that James approves of. David Fizdale seemingly meets that standard, and it sounds like the Knicks made sure of it before they hired him.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry reached out to LeBron’s agent and lifelong friend Rich Paul before they hired Fizdale. Contacting LeBron about the hire would be an obvious tampering violation, but gauging Paul’s opinion on the move might as well have been the same thing.
Paul reportedly gave the Knicks “the lowdown on Fizdale’s methods.” The conversation may not have been strictly LeBron-influenced, however, as Paul also represents Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. The Knicks, who have the No. 9 overall pick, may consider drafting Bridges next month.
According to a previous report from Berman, the Knicks are prepared to open up the necessary salary cap space to make a run at LeBron this summer if James indicates any willingness to sign with them.
Fizdale was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 2008-2016, including all four seasons that LeBron was with the team. The two have seemingly maintained a close relationship, which was evident with the way James reacted after Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies last year. The Knicks obviously didn’t hire Fizdale just to please LeBron, but it doesn’t hurt.