After a second stint with the New York Knicks, hired Sept. 4 to be an assistant on the franchise’s first-year coaching staff under Tom Thibodeau, Mike Woodson was introduced Monday morning as Indiana’s new head coach. Prior to Monday evening’s game against the Miami Heat, Thibodeau gave Hoosiers fans a ringing endorsement of Woodson.
“Well, No. 1, we are thrilled for him,” Thibodeau said, via SNY’s Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) Twitter account. “It’s bittersweet. Obviously, we’ll miss him. He’s an unbelievable guy, great coach. But it’s such an amazing story. And we want to thank (owner) Jim Dolan for allowing him to go, along with (president) Leon (Rose) and (executive vice president, senior basketball advisor William Wesley) Wes.
“You’ve got to realize what this means to him. He’s a kid who grew up in Indianapolis, as did his wife Terri. And, of course, playing there and the career that he had — it’s really a special moment. It allows him to realize a dream and there’s no one more deserving than him, and he’ll knock it out of the park.
“We’re just thrilled for him, so we’re excited about that. And the one thing that — we have a very large staff and we have a number of young guys that are developing, and they’re involved in everything that we do. And so, I think we’ll look internally first and then probably make a decision (this) summer at some point.”
Woodson, 63, was an assistant (2011-12) and head coach (2012-14) of the Knicks after a six-year stint leading the Atlanta Hawks (2004-10). He returns to his alma mater after a career-long coaching tenure in the NBA from 1996-18 and 2020-21.
“I want to thank my Knick family for allowing me to get out of my contract and come on home,” Woodson said during Monday morning’s introductory press conference, via Mike Pegram of 247Sports affiliate Peegs.com. “You know, Jim Dolan gets a bad rap in New York. But he was a great owner for me. He allowed me to head coach, and he allowed me to come back and be an assistant. I have him to thank, Leon, Wes, (general manager) Scott Perry and Tom Thibodeau — what a great coach. His beautiful staff that they have assembled in New York has allowed me to do what I do now, and be able to come back and be a coach here at Indiana University. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. So I thank them very much from the bottom of my heart … all the front office and medical and trainers, everybody in that Knick organization is first class and I have them to thank for me standing here today, so thank you.”
Woodson played wing for Indiana under legendary Hoosiers mentor Bobby Knight from 1976-80, but has never been a coach — assistant or head — at the college level. Athletic director Scott Dolson revealed Monday morning that he gained insight into Woodson from NBA personnel before making his hire.
“I didn’t use a search committee, as you know, but I relied on just so many experts that I talked to — experts in the NBA from owners to general managers to scouts, experts in college, coaches, athletic directors, commissioners,” Dolson said. “They know who they are and there’s some names — and I’ll keep that confidential out of respect for them and the process, but they know who they are — and I just want them to know I just can’t thank them enough for the time they took to really help me walk through this process and do the deep dive and due diligence I wanted to do.
Get the fastest scores, stats, news, LIVE videos, and more. CLICK HERE to download the CBS Sports Mobile App and get the latest on your team today.
“There’s some names on there that would probably surprise people how much time they put in. The NBA trade deadline was going on during this process, and I had people that were so heavily involved in that that took literally large amounts of time through this process and give me great advice.”