David Fizdale's top goal while he is coach of the Knicks is to accomplish something that only Red Holzman has been able to do in the franchise's 72 seasons: win a championship.
New York's new coach was in Latvia to visit All-Star Kristaps Porzinigs while he continues to rehab the torn ACL that cut his season short, and the former Grizzlies coach gave an interview to Sportacentrs.com, according to the New York Post.
In the interview, Fizdale explained why going over to Europe to meet with Porzingis for the first time since he was named coach is just another step toward helping the Knicks achieve something they have not done since 1973.
"I want to take the Knicks to the championship," Fizdale said. "This is my main and greatest goal—to win the title for New York. Every morning is with this thought. Visiting Latvia and building of relationships with players so that they are more than simple coach-player relations, I believe that establishing such a link is a way to overcome the difficulties in the playoffs."
Fizdale added that he also spoke with Porzingis about his decision to skip out on his exit interview at the end of the 2016-17 season with then-coach Jeff Hornacek and then-team president Phil Jackson. Fizdale said Porzingis "is ready to go past it" and added that "he is ready to strive for the new goals that await," particularly since he will be returning from such a serious injury this season.
In regards to the rest of his team, Fizdale said he is looking to focus on defense and transition offense and added that he wants to have the players adjusted to moving without the ball and knowing "how to spread the court, what is a good and bad shot" so it will be easier to integrate Porzinigis back into the fold whenever he returns from injury.
If Fizdale is able to achieve his goal of winning a title with the Knicks, it would be quite the feat. New York has a combined record of 146-264 since its last playoff appearance in 2013. The team has missed the playoffs each of the last five seasons, and 13 times in the last 17 seasons. The Knicks haven't reached the Eastern Conference finals since 2000 when they lost to the Pacers and their last trip to the Finals came in 1999 when the lost to the Spurs.
New York also reached the Finals in 1994, but prior to that, the team had not been to the championship round since winning its second title in 1973.
Before Fizdale spent a little more than a season as the coach in Memphis, he was an assistant for the Heat, where he was on the bench during their back-to-back title run in 2012 and 2013.