The Knicks have won 12 games in a row and are looking to clinch the franchise’s first division title since 1994 this week.
Mike Woodson is 68-32 in his first 100 regular-season games since replacing Mike D’Antoni last season, but he has bigger aspirations than just a division title. The Knicks head coach knows his team has a long way to go, but this group needs to continue to be consistent in order to have a chance in the NBA playoffs.
Mike Woodson joined 98.7 ESPN New York with Stephen A.Smith and Ryan Ruocco to discuss the excitement surrounding the New York Knicks, the Knicks’ 12-game winning streak, the change in Carmelo Anthony’s play and the Knicks’ desire to win a championship this season.
What are your thoughts when you look over the Knicks’ record right now?
“I’m excited about all that stuff. The big picture is trying to bring a title to New York. That’s the big picture. I mean, you gotta win to position yourself the best way possible to hopefully get that accomplished. But this is just one step and it’s been an exciting run to this point. We still got a ways to go.”
What does this win streak mean to you and your team?
“We beat a good team on their floor. They don’t lose many games in Oklahoma. This is a team that could possibly come out of the West and get to the NBA Finals. They got a legitimate shot and they came here in New York and won a game, and the beauty of going back into someone else’s building and getting the game back just tells me that my guys and our guys are committed. They are committed to winning. You don’t win 12 in a row and not be committed. They are looking at the big picture and the big picture is still down the road there, but we’re just trying to position ourselves, as we speak today, by winning our division to secure that second spot.”
How do you explain the change in Carmelo Anthony’s play?
“I think he has been consistent. If you look at his numbers scored and career numbers, that’s pretty consistent. When you look at his numbers today, they’re consistent. I think that he’s on a team that he respects guys on the team and guys respect him. We have a team. We’re not a fly-by-night team that’s trying to get something accomplished. Everybody has been committed. Everybody is buying in and everybody is holding each other accountable. Melo’s game has jumped a notch. He’s older, he’s more mature and it should get better. It shouldn’t go the other way. He’s still in his prime, so you gotta expect that. I expect it and his teammates expect it and the fans expect it and Melo is a mentally tough kid. He’s physically tough and he expects that too, man. I think that’s why his game has really elevated to where it is today, and again, I can’t say enough. We’ve benefited from all of it.”
When you took the Knicks job did you believe it was about winning now?
“I’ve always felt that way. I felt that way after what happened in Atlanta. That team won 47 games and the next year we won 53 games and made two second-round appearances and I lose my job. Again, I am not knocking Atlanta. They gave me six years of their life. I gave them six years of my life and I thought I built a basketball team. I just didn’t get a chance to finish it. I left with the attitude that the next time I got a coaching job I got to make the most of it as quickly as possible because there isn’t anything guaranteed. When we fielded this team this summer we knew that our clocks were ticking. We put some veteran guys in that are in the tail end of their careers along with some core guys that were young and in their prime that could play and it was a good mixture, I thought, when we put it together. Yeah, we’ve had our ups and downs in terms of our injuries, but we seemed to maintain during the injuries in terms of playing .500 basketball and now we are in a stretch where, is it a desperate stretch? It’s a stretch where we are trying to stay on top of our division and win out to the second spot. To me, is that desperate? It could be because we are desperately wanting to do things. I mean, it’s been a good run for us up until this point, but it’s desperate times for our team to win and win now. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how it should be. You don’t get into this thing not to try to win a title, and my clock is ticking. Hell, I’m 55 years old and I’m not getting any younger, so yeah, we’re in desperate times right now to try to win an NBA title. Absolutely.”