The struggling New York Knicks fired Coach Stu Jackson today and replaced him with former Phoenix and Dallas Coach John MacLeod.
“This decision was made in the best interests of the New York Knickerbockers,” General Manager Al Bianchi said.
“At this point in time, we felt a change was needed to improve the performance of the team. John MacLeod is a proven winner. His outstanding record speaks for itself.”
Bianchi and MacLeod have a long relationship in basketball. Bianchi served as MacLeod’s assistant coach for 11 seasons at Phoenix and then tried to hire him as the Knicks coach in 1987. MacLeod had already committed to Dallas and New York hired Rick Pitino instead.
After two seasons, Pitino left the Knicks for the University of Kentucky and was replaced by Jackson, one of his assistant coaches.
The coaching change brought with it a change in playing styles from Pitino’s running game to a halfcourt concept under Jackson.
The Knicks finished third in the Atlantic Division last season with a 45-37 record and upset the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in five games. They were off to a slow start this year with a 7-8 record, including five losses in their last six games.
Throughout the recent losing streak, when rumors about Jackson’s security surfaced, Bianchi endorsed the coach. “He’s doing fine,” the general manager said.
But the team was not doing well, especially at home. Saturday’s 113-96 victory over Charlotte was just the third in eight home games for New York this season and ended a three-game home-court losing streak.
MacLeod, 53, ranks fifth among active NBA coaches with 675 victories. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.
He coached 14 seasons with Phoenix and two full seasons at Dallas. Last year, 11 games into his third season with the Mavericks, he was fired. His teams won 50 or more games five times and went to the conference finals four times and the NBA Finals once.