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Best & Worst New York Knicks Coaches of All Time

Best & Worst New York Knicks Coaches of All Time

Coaching a pro basketball team is one thing. Coaching a big city team like the New York Knicks is another. The spotlight’s beam is hotter, brighter and more punishing than in most other franchise locations. The only way to get out alive with dignity intact is by delivering success. However, coaching greatness in the city isn’t entirely measured by the number of titles but also on whether the team avoided humiliation by being fierce and competitive, two qualities that the 90s Knicks team undoubtedly exemplify. On the other hand, utter failure and mediocrity is a big no-no in the big apple.  And that’s why you will be hard-pressed to find a single soul in Gotham who would love Isiah Thomas to come over for dinner.

Here Are the Worst and Best Knicks Coaches in History

The Worst…
Larry Brown (2005-2006)


Brown was thought to be a big step for the Knicks when owner James Dolan hired the Hall-of-Famer coach. What Brown didn’t know then was that his future with the Knicks would be one of the most disastrous coaching stints in the franchise’s history. The club tied the franchise-worst single season losses of 59. His off-court squabble with some of his players, particularly Stephon Marbury, only added to the drama of a forgettable season. Brown walked away just after one season and was replaced by….

Isiah Thomas (2006-07 to 2007-08)

Isiah Thomas, NBA, New York Knicks

A big city like New York likes success, in the same capacity that they can’t stomach failure, a field Thomas has masterfully honed to perfection even before he coached the Knicks as the team’s president of basketball operations. He inherited a team with a raft of questionable talents (which he signed to the team during his time as the Knicks’ GM) and gifted New York with a couple of despicable seasons: 33-49 in 2006-07 and 23-59 in 2007-08.

Eddie Donovan (1961-1962 to 1964-1965)

Eddie Donovan, NBA, New York Knicks

Amazingly, Isiah Thomas’ screaming failures weren’t enough to touch the unmatched mediocrity of Donovan. Donovan coached the Knicks for three-and-a-half seasons and failed to break the 30-win barrier in any of those years. Except for the Larry Brown who coached the Knicks for just one season, Donovan has the worst winning percentage among the team’s coaches with a miserable clip of .302 after finishing with a record of 84-194

The Best…
Jeff Van Gundy (1995-96 to 2001-02)

Jeff Van Gundy, NBA, New York Knicks

Van Gundy coached the Knicks for five full seasons and steered them to the postseason in all of those. During his tenure, the Knicks were seriously considered as among the top contenders in the Eastern Conference even making the finals in 1999-2000 seasons.

Pat Riley (1991-92 to 1994-95)

Pat Riley, NBA, New York Knicks

After winning four championship titles with the LA Lakers, Riley brought his coaching act to the East Coast and wasted no time to make an impact. In his first year in New York, Riley guided the Knicks to a 51-31 record, a 12-win improvement from the previous season. By his second year, the Knicks tied the franchise’s best season record with a 60-22 mark. To sum it all up, Riley had the Knicks winning at least 50 games in all four season he coached them and his .680 winning percentage is tops in Knicks’ history.

Red Holzman (1968-69 to 1976-77, 1978-79 to 1981-82)

Bill Bradley, Red Holzman

The Knicks only won two NBA titles in its history (1970, 1973) and both of those were accomplished under the rein of Holzman. Also, of the 10 most winningest seasons of the Knicks, four were coached by Holzman. No wonder that he still is the ball club’s all-time leader in coaching wins with 613 wins. With all these said, the only left thing to say is that Holzman is the greatest mentor in New York Knicks history.

The Knicks have had a lot of coaches since it began competing in the professional ranks in 1946.

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Written by Rex

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