On This Date: Knicks hire Stu Jackson as the next head coach

July 10th 1989: The New York Knicks pick Stu Jackson as the next head coach

Nearly 6 weeks after Rick Pitino left the New York Knicks to coach the University of Kentucky basketball team, the team decided to hire Stu Jackson as the next head coach. Jackson, then 33 years old, became the 2nd youngest NBA coach in history at the time. Jackson previously was an assistant coach for Pitino with the Knicks and at Providence College.

Jackson brought a slower pace of basketball compared to the bomb squad teams that Pitino employed. The pace of play was more half court oriented and didnt emphasize the three point shot.

Jackson was 45-37 in his first season and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, the Knicks fired him in the next season after starting the year 7-8. Internal tensions with the coaching staff and various players led to his demise as the head coach.

On This Date: Knicks fire Stu Jackson

December 3, 1990: Knicks fire Stu Jackson and hire John Macleod as head coach

The Knicks fired Stu Jackson and hired John MacLeod to take over as head coach. Jackson was an assistant on Rick Pitino’s staff dating back to his days coaching the Providence men’s basketball team. Once Pitino left the Knicks for the University of Kentucky, the Knicks hired Stu Jackson as head coach, marking him the third youngest coach in Knicks history, at the time.1

Jackson led the Knicks to a 45-37 record in his first season and upset the Boston Celtics in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Knicks fired Jackson in the following season after his Knicks started the season 7-8, losing 5 of their last 6 games, and 3 straight games at home.

His offensive philosophy was more conservative and half court oriented, which marked a significant contrast from Pitino’s uptempo style. However, the personnel largely resembled what Pitino looked for in his system resulting in a disjointed level of play. Additionally, there was a lot of tension around the team during that season. There were reports that Stu Jackson sparred with his assistant coaches placed on the team by General Manager Al Bianchi to oversee his performance. The players, including Mark Jackson and Patrick Ewing, took issue with various things from playing time, contract situations, and even traveling up to Westchester to practice.

John MacLeod returned to the NBA after the Dallas Mavericks fired him in the previous season. MacLeod developed a relationship with Bianchi during their tenure with the Phoenix Suns. MacLeod led the Knicks to a 39-43 record and lost to the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Neither Bianchi or MacLeod lasted past the season.  The Knicks fired Bianchi in March 1991 and replaced by Dave Checketts. The team fired MacLeod after the regular season and subsequently hired Pat Riley as the new head coach. The rest is history.


December 3, 1968: Knicks beat Hawks by 33 points in Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks handily beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-93 in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks had four players in double figures, including Dick Barnett (24 points), Walt “Clyde’ Frazier (20 points), Cazzie Russell (19 points), & Phil Jackson (15 points).

The win gave the Knicks their 11th win of the season (11-14). The team would eventually win 54 games and made the Eastern Division Semifinals under Red Holzman’s first full year as head coach of the team.

This game was the second of six matchups against the now-Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks moved to Atlanta from St. Louis beginning in the 1968-69 season. After refusing to remain in St. Louis, the team was sold to Atlanta-based real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Georgia governor Carl Sanders. Clyde Frazier grew up in Atlanta and finally got to play against his new home town team.