Numbers don't lie.
The Knicks crossed the border today and found the Canadians to be much less hospitable, dropping a game by 17–though it did not feel that close. (Fire Woodson! Let's give Herb Williams a try as head coach!)
See? The numbers didn't lie, but the embellishment that followed couldn't be considered truthful.
It is nice that Mike Woodson cracked that top five list for point differentials, but just looking at the coaching names might not provide meaningful reference to the average fan.
Taking a look, however, at the players those coaches had, might:
'66-67 Alex Hannum PHI (Wilt Chamberlain and two other eventual Hall of Famers)
'79-80 Paul Westhead LAL (rookie Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
''79-80 Bill Fitch BOS (ROY Larry Bird)
'71-72 Bill Sharman LAL (Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West)
Only the Fitch-led Celtics did not manage to win a championship during their respective year; they won it the following year.
That means the Knicks are going to win the NBA title this year, or next year at the latest. Lock it up!
One more statistic to note: none of the coaches above took over their teams mid-season.
Why is it significant that Mike Woodson's New York Knicks is the only team to post such a dramatic turnaround?
The other coaches had an offseason to run practices, install their offensive and defensive packages, and mold their team.
Mike Woodson had barely enough time to run a single practice before he took over for his first game.
According to Amar'e Stoudemire, "“There are four things the coaches are emphasizing — one, rebound the ball, two, play defense, three, apply ball pressure and four, guard the screen and roll.”
Did Woodson say something to this effect to his team the day that Mike D'Antoni resigned, and was that all it took to turn a six-game losing streak into a 42 point blowout of the visiting Portland Trailblazers on March 14?
The answer to the above questions are, respectively: "Maybe" and "of course not!"
What really happened is that the New York Knicks players quit on D'Antoni long before he quit on them.
"I think in the last three games, my focus was to have an energy that I haven't had so far this season, especially on the defensive end," Carmelo Anthony recently told the New York Newsday.
Who should be the Knicks coach next year?
That statement should tell you all you need to know.
Add in that Carmelo Anthony has had trouble seeing eye to eye with Mike D'Antoni (388-339 record) and George Karl (1062-724), why would he now be able to take orders from Mike Woodson, who owned a 206-286 coaching record before taking over for the Knicks?
Mike Woodson is a perfect interim coach for the New York Knicks.
He needs to showcase himself. In order to showcase himself, he needs to win. In order to win, he needs to keep his players (especially his stars) happy.
He is also coaching a team that has already blamed one coach for its failings, so his players need to play well to keep the blame off of them. In other words, everyone - including Carmelo Anthony - will put the team first. For now.
So Knicks fans, Knicks players, and also Mike Woodson: Enjoy it while it lasts.
I hope it is a strong enough end to the season to earn Woodson another coaching job elsewhere, and enough to attract a marquee coach whose accomplishments will demand the players' respect.