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David Fizdale is totally wrong to blame the Knicks’ failures on outside pressure


David Fizdale, again being paid by ESPN as an analyst, broke his silence Wednesday. He declared he has “no ill feelings” toward the Knicks and coaching them was a pressure cooker because of fans’ expectations.

“I think when you’re taking about a rebuild with the Knicks, the toughest part about New York and Madison Square Garden is just the patience level,” Fizdale said on ESPN Radio. “It’s a team that has struggled for a long time and fans really want to get it going as soon as possible. And it’s unique from that standpoint because there’s other places where you can take your time more and build a little more slowly. But in Madison Square Garden, it’s a tough environment and the media market surrounding the team and scrutiny that’s around that, it can really put a lot of pressure on people in that building.”

Fizdale lasted just 104 games in New York so it’s understandable that his comment about outside pressures being the downfall is totally off base. The Knicks, and Fizdale, were largely given a pass for tanking away his first season. The problem was they traded away the team’s best player — Kristaps Porzingis — for cap space to land superstars who didn’t want to meet with them in free agency. Fizdale was supposed to be an attraction to these star players. It didn’t work out that way.

After the Knicks spent over $70 million on second-tier free agents, it should’ve been fair for the fans and media to expect solid improvement from the 17-win campaign last season. And even after they started 2-8, it was the front office and owner — not the media or fans — who set off an alarm by holding an impromptu press conference.

Fizdale was fired a few weeks later.

“That’s the business we’ve chosen. I respect those guys they had to make a tough decision. I miss the hell out of them. All the players, the staff,” Fizdale said. “But that’s the business. At the time we were 4-18 and they had to make a tough decision. I have no ill feelings toward the situation. I understand this is a business. And I obviously learned a ton from it. And I really was just grateful to have that opportunity to say I was the head coach of the New York Knicks.“

Fizdale had two years remaining on his $22 million deal and Knicks employees typically sign a non-disclosure agreement after they’re fired. No bad-mouthing the company.

Interim coach Mike Miller has provided a boost since taking over for Fizdale, going 6-9 despite a current three-game losing streak.

The Knicks are in the midst of their worst six-season stretch in franchise history and have been the worst NBA team over the last 20 years. But they do have two intriguing prospects — RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson — and own all their draft picks moving forward.

“I really think they’re on the right track. They got a ton of young talent, a ton of cap space and great people under that roof,” Fizdale said “I think it’s just a matter of time before it all comes together.”