Mike Woodson officially has the support of one person who has absolutely no influence over what the New York Knicks say or do—Stephon Marbury.
The former Knicks point guard and two-time NBA All-Star was in attendance at Madison Square Garden Christmas Day, just in time to see Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder traipse their way to a 123-94 victory. He caught up with the New York Post's Marc Berman at halftime, at which point he explicitly defended New York's embattled head coach.
"They have a pretty good coach—a straight shooter," Marbury said of Woodson. "He’s not a B.S. type of coach. Players respect him. When you have that at the helm, it makes it easier, but it can’t fall all on 'Melo [Carmelo Anthony]."
That it can't. It also cannot all fall on Woodson, who doesn't have the power to make shots and play defense for his players.
"Defensively, we just weren't there tonight," Woody said following New York's Christmas Day defeat, per the Associated Press (via philly.com).
But some of it, most of it, is on Woodson. His rotations are awful, and while injuries have depleted the Knicks, he continues to stray away from what worked last season—small ball.
Playing Anthony exclusively at the 4 helped New York to 54 victories last year. Helped them win the Atlantic Division.
Allowed them to avoid their current predicament last year.
This season, it's been different.
Woodson remains inexplicably enchanted with big lineups. Meanwhile, the Knicks are 4-12 when Anthony starts at small forward. Going 5-7 with tinier lineups isn't great, but it's better. Given their current state, "better" should be enough to stop tinkering with a battle-tested blueprint.
There's also the possibility Woodson isn't reaching his players anymore. And per The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring, Beno Udrih could be one of them:
Asked whether Woodsons still getting thru to the tm, Udrih said "Maybe the message hasn't come across or we aren't hearing the right thing."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 25, 2013
Say what you will about Udrih, but he makes a good point. He signed with New York under the guise Woodson would be running small lineups, which he isn't:
Udrih, who was sold on NY as a free agent w idea that he'd be used in 2PG lineups: "Even when [Felton] was healthy, we weren't using them."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) December 25, 2013
Still, we always come back to the players. Take Woodson out of the equation, and the Knicks still have problems.
Sideshow act-worthy problems.
Should Mike Woodson be fired?
"I told him we were going to the Garden for the circus," Marbury cracked, explaining to Berman what he told his son of their excursion to MSG.
When you're right, you're right. And Starbury's right.
"This team has more talent with Amar’e [Stoudemire] and Melo, and they have to figure it out when they’re healthy," Marbury added. "All they have to do is get into the playoffs, and the Garden atmosphere will carry them through."
Knicks fans can only hope he's right again.