The professional basketball world was buzzing after the NBA‘s New York Knicks fired its head coach on Friday. The long-anticipated termination of David Fizdale capped 104 games that he coached, during which he only won 21 of them, including just four out of 18 games this season. That was good (or bad) enough for a winning percentage barely north of 20 percent.
As such, Fizdale was an online punching bag on social media after his firing was announced, a position he became well acquainted with from the start of his tenure two seasons ago. But what put an X on his back by Knicks management was when he and his staff (and bosses) struck out in free agency over the summer and only landed some mediocre talent, as opposed achieving the goal of signing top-tier free agents, who shunned the Knicks because of its losing ways and notoriously ineffective front office and ownership.
Instead of signing the intended high-profile targets that included NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis — all of whom publicly declined to even entertain the Knicks with an interview — the team settled for a hodgepodge of veteran second- and third-tier players including Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris and Julius Randle. The Knicks did snag a major prospect by drafting rookie RJ Barrett out of Duke University, one of a handful of promising young talent the team hopes to foster.
But at the end of the day, many people saw this summer as Fizdale’s most damning loss during his brief tenure as the Knicks head coach. But after the initial jokes on Friday afternoon about the continued fall of the most valuable franchise in the NBA, a lot of Knicks fans and Fizdale critics stopped for a second to realize that he — perhaps the losingest head coach in team history — may have actually emerged victorious in spite of, or because of, his firing.
That was due in no small part to the iron-clad contract that will keep the Knicks paying him anywhere from $15 million to $18 million over the course of the next two years. That truth could explain why Fizdale was frequently seen smiling during blowout losses, including the 30+ point rout by the Milwaukee Bucks last week that saw the Knicks down by as many as 47 points during the one-sided contest.
But those losses are a thing of the past for Fizdale, who now gets to enjoy life without the stresses of coaching in the country’s largest media market. And Twitter users noticed that too, chiming in with tweets that was a mix of clowning Fizdale along with others that crowned him the only winner of this failure of a young Knicks season. Scroll down for some choice examples.