Bob Knight backs Mike Woodson

Updated: April 3, 2012, 5:18 PM ET
By Ian O'Connor | ESPNNewYork.com

Bob Knight said the New York Knicks would be making an "idiotic" decision if they decided against bringing back his former Indiana University star, Mike Woodson, as their head coach next year.

Woodson, the Knicks' interim coach, is 9-2 since replacing Mike D'Antoni, a record that makes him a serious candidate for a full-time job many thought would be open this summer for the likes of Phil Jackson. A 1980 first-round pick of the Knicks who was dealt after his rookie season, Woodson has 13 regular season games and a possible playoff run to go before learning if he gets to stay in New York this time around.

"I think they'd be idiotic if they didn't keep him," Knight, an ESPN analyst, said in a Monday phone interview. "The players have really responded to Mike. The (Jeremy) Lin kid responded to the chance he had under Mike, the team's gone 9-2, and they haven't had anything remotely close to that performance over 11 games.

"You'd have to be an absolute idiot not to see all of that. Not that the NBA is without its absolute idiots."

A captain for Knight who scored 2,062 points in his four-year Indiana career, Woodson played 11 seasons in the NBA. He was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for six years before being fired in 2010 following back-to-back trips to the conference semifinals.

"Here's the unbelievable thing," Knight said. "Mike is the only coach in the history of the NBA to take over a franchise and in his first (six) years improve its record every year. And he winds up getting fired for it.

"Mike is a very bright guy who understands basketball really well. Wherever he's been, whether it's with Larry Brown (in Philadelphia and Detroit) or as the head coach in Atlanta, his teams have benefited enormously. It's obvious what's happened with the Knicks since he took over. The 9-2 record is as good as any coach's in the NBA, and that's sort of a declaration in itself."

Ian O'Connor

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Ian O'Connor has won numerous national awards as a sports columnist and is the author of three books, including the bestseller, "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter." ESPN Radio broadcasts "The Ian O'Connor Show" every Sunday from 7 to 9 a.m. ET. Follow Ian on Twitter »

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