After he was fired as head coach of the Knicks in December 2019, David Fizdale misplaced himself.
“I really was at the lowest place I’ve ever been from a mental health standpoint,” he mentioned in regards to the aftermath of his firing in an interview with The Undefeated, printed Thursday.
The Knicks parted ways with Fizdale, who initially signed a five-year, $22 million contract, following a 4-18 report to begin the 2019-20 season. He went 17-65 in his 2018-19 debut season as head coach in New York, which marked the worst report within the league.
The group introduced on Fizdale to guide a “patient rebuild” that included making a profitable tradition throughout the then-struggling storied franchise — which took a playoff-clinching flip underneath present head coach Tom Thibodeau this season.
The Knicks are nonetheless accountable for the three-plus years and $17 million in Fizdale’s hire-gone-wrong.
“I thought the lowest point was during the losses,” Fizdale recalled, noting that his most troublesome time was when he skilled self-doubt.
“But it was after, when you go through the whole part of, ‘What could I have done different? Did I even deserve this job?’ You think like you were an imposter. You felt like you got over on these people. You’re a fraud.”
Upon taking the Knicks head teaching job in 2018, Fizdale mentioned, “I always thought, whoever you give me, I can win with them. I’ll figure it out. That’s how arrogant I was.”
At the time, Fizdale had a roster that simply didn’t match.
After the Knicks came up short in free agency in 2019, GM Scott Perry after which president Steve Mills signed all free agent energy forwards – Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis Jr. and Marcus Morris – to affix Julius Randle.
The younger roster was stuffed with one-year offers and rookie contracts with no blueprint for longevity. And Fizdale’s level guards on the time, Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, all struggled to shoot from 3-point vary.
While reflecting on the roster in New York, Fizdale expressed remorse with how he dealt with his relationships with gamers.
“I loved them, and probably a big part of me wanted them to love me back. I had a very hard time disconnecting from the human being in them. And so I found myself in a conundrum. It was eating me alive every day,” he defined.
“I probably was too nice to those guys. I was too wrapped up in what would happen to them if they didn’t play. It was basically the opposite of what I did wrong in Memphis.”
Fizdale described his teaching type in Memphis, particularly with then-franchise star Marc Gasol, as ego-filled and hard.
“I tried to coach Marc Gasol like I coached kids from the ‘hood, but I hadn’t gained enough trust from him. I coached him how my high school coach would have coached me, where I tried to tear his ego down to the barest bones in front of the group,” Fizdale defined. “I got caught up in my own ego and my emotions, because I was so frustrated with the losing.”
He later added, “What [Memphis] taught me is I can still coach guys hard, but I have to know the level I can go to. I have to coach them with the idea that it’s bigger than basketball.”
After doing a little soul-searching whereas away from basketball for a 12 months and a half, Fizdale has adopted a contemporary perspective on his teaching skills.
The 43-year-old advised The Undefeated he now feels ready to return to teaching within the NBA. He mentioned he is able to tackle both a lead assistant teaching place — and even one of many 5 head-coaching jobs out there with the Mavericks, Blazers, Pelicans, Magic and Wizards.
Coaching vacancies in Boston and Indiana had been simply stuffed. The Post just lately confirmed the Celtics are finalizing a deal to name Nets assistant Ime Udoka as their new head coach. On Thursday, former Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confirmed he inked a four-year, $29 million deal to return as head coach of the Pacers.
“I think I’m at a place now that I see purpose in what I do. A deeper purpose,” Fizdale mentioned. “I wish to come again to the sport with my thoughts completely on service — service with out means to an finish. I’ve by no means coached that approach earlier than.
“It ain’t about me no more. I’m coaching to help this kid get better, and I don’t care if I get credit or not. It’s about my time with this kid and providing the space he needs to improve as a man, and as a player. And that’s it.”
Fizdale mentioned he’s by no means felt happier teaching than he does now.
“I really haven’t, because I didn’t understand. I was always chasing this image that everybody else told us we had to be. I was always chasing to be [Gregg Popovich] or Pat [Riley]. Could I catch them in wins? Could I be a Hall of Famer? I was always chasing this invisible GOAT. But I think people abuse the word ‘competitor.’ You can still be a monster competitor without your life hinging on it.”
As for a way he plans to win in in the present day’s NBA if given a possibility to teach?
“I’m just going to keep leaning into the idea of being a human first and being a coach second and see where that takes me,” Fizdale mentioned.
“That’s where I think I’ll find winning.”