Mike Woodson’s journey to the present day is an interesting story, which has seen him go full circle in his professional career. The New York Knicks were the team that selected Woodson in the 1980 draft at number 12 in the first round.
Before Woodson’s professional career began he was an Indiana Hoosier to the core. Woodson was born in Indiana, where basketball is almost life. He learned his craft of the motion offense, where you must be able to pass, shoot, dribble and play off the ball.
He attended Broad Ripple High School where he was coached by Bill Smith. These two have had a strong bond and relationship over the years. When Woodson was given the Interim Coaching job with the Knicks, Smith was hired as part of the Woodson coaching staff and he currently is an adviser to the team.
Woodson elected to go to Indiana University to play under Head Coach Bob Knight. Woodson had Bill Smith attend his Indiana University tryouts; one of the advantages of the proximity of his chosen school. He also chose Indiana so his family was close; they could see him play a lot and he believed he could receive a great education on and off the basketball court.
In the final two years of his college career Woodson really came into his own as a player and proved he had a game worth noticing. Woodson was the leading scorer in his junior year that helped the 1979 Hoosier team win the NIT – National Invitation Tournament.
As a senior, Woodson teamed up with an ex member of the Knicks organization Isiah Thomas, to win the Big Ten and advance to the 1980 Sweet 16.
As I mentioned earlier, the Knicks are the team that brought Woodson into the NBA as a player in 1980. Woodson only spent a short time of his 12 years as a professional player in New York before he was traded to Kansas City Kings where he helped the team during a 1983 playoff run.
After he moved with the Kansas City team to Sacramento, Woodson bounced around the NBA playing with New Jersey, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston and Cleveland.
He averaged 14.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game over his NBA career. Woodson finished his playing career in 1991.
Woodson wasn’t just going to be able to relax in his retirement with the second of his daughters being born in 1991. He was now the proud father of two young girls in Alexis and Mariah. Both Alexis and Mariah are very good athletes excelling in volleyball where they have been a big part of the Georgia Tech Volleyball team over the years.
In 1996, Woodson returned to the NBA, starting his apprenticeship as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks until the end of the 1999 season. Woodson had three smaller runs with Cleveland from 1999 to 2001, Philadelphia from 2001 to 2003 and Detroit 2003-04.
The 2003-04 season is where Woodson possibly attracted attention where he was a defensive coach and helped Larry Brown win the NBA title with the Detroit Pistons. This achievement obviously got Woodson noticed, because he was offered his first head coaching job with the Atlanta Hawks to start the 2004-05 season.
As Woodson has mentioned to the media this week, he had a young core of players in Atlanta that he helped develop into a team that improved year after year. Woodson got his young Hawks team from 13 regular wins in his first year to 53 regular season victories in his sixth and final season with the Hawks.
After not advancing passed the Eastern Conference Semi Finals two seasons in a row, the Atlanta management decided not to rehire Woodson as their head coach at the end of the 2009-10 season.
Woodson had a season away from the NBA before he was back as an assistant coach; this time with the team that gave him his NBA start in his professional playing career – the Knicks – at the start of 2011-12.
He wasn’t an assistant coach for long this time after the Knicks and D’Antoni went different ways. Woodson was given the interim head coaching job on March 14th 2012.
After a successful end to the regular season (18-6) and their first playoff win in what feels like 100 years, Woodson was awarded the head coaching job for the Knicks on May 25th.
Due to his early years at Atlanta, Woodson’s coaching win loss record (224-292) doesn’t show how good of a coach he really is.
Mike Woodson has been an above average player and coach, but can he become a legend by winning an NBA title for the New York Knicks?
Leon Jacobsen @JacobsenLeon - Knickswag Contributor