"Fire Woody" may be the most popular phrase in Hawksland since 2004. "Fire Woody" was more popular than bashing the ASG or the infamous "Nooooooo" when Josh Smith took any jumpshot (good, bad, or ugly). "Fire Woody" has a deep and well documented background. Iso-Joe, Josh's shot selection, getting drilled by Orlando, and playing Joe 40 minutes a game for 5 seasons could all be attributed to the Woody effect. For this franchise, "Fire Woody" was its first cure to solving most of its problems.
And now, as I continue to enjoy the ups and downs of being a Hawks fan, "Fire LD" just does not have the same ring. Now that's not to say that I totally endorse LD. That's not to say that I or other Hawks fans are satisfied with LD's performance and decision-making (like calling out his team for quitting when no one else would have made that assumption and refusing to give Teague a chance to be the Hawks starting point guard last season). And that's before acknowledging that LD is a product of the Woody era. But LD is a clear upgrade over Woodson. LD introduced an offense that is much more lethal and balanced. It has taken time for the team to fully embrace it and it has taken time for the team to get rid of a large portion of its old habits on offense, but now it runs much more fluently and Iso-Joe is a just a small sample of the Hawks attack. The players seem to respond better to LD's leadership. LD has done a great job of putting guys in positions to succeed.
Now before you begin to think that this is an LD love letter, its not. This post actually has less to do with LD and more to do with something that all Hawks fans do not miss and something that another projected Eastern Conference power, has become well acquainted with. Its Woody's biggest down fall and the fuel to the "Fire Woody" locomotive.
It is that horrible, ineffective switching defense. For years Al and Josh and Zaza and even Twin would be isolated somewhere on the court by smaller but quicker guards. For years Mike Bibby, Jamal Crawford, and the brigade of other guards to come through Atlanta found themselves matched up with bigger, stronger forwards and centers. It made no sense. Everyone seemed to know that but Woody. For all we know, none of his assistants agreed with the switching. But Woody was the head coach and Woody was a "defensive genius" coming from Detroit, so everyone bought in.
This is where the Knicks come in. The Knicks had one of the best offensive minds in basketball as its head coach. They had one of the best offensive power forwards and one of the best offensive weapons regardless of position as its first threat. So common sense says that defense is where they had to improve. They went out and got the defensive anchor from the World Champions. They drafted maybe the best perimeter defender in the draft. And they hired Woody as the equivalent to an NFL defensive coordinator.
The Knicks are having a bad season thus far. Carmelo and Amare' don't seem to compliment one another. They desperately need a floor general, maybe Baron Davis is the answer there. And Mike D'antoni's offense doesn't look anything like his Pheonix days. And so you have calls for his job. It has been said that Madison Square Garden has recently been filled with "We Want Woody" chants. I guess because he has NY ties. Beats me.
Whether D'antoni is the right man for the job, I can not say. But what I can say is that Woody is definitely not the answer and is more so a part of the problem. Woody, as the Knicks defensive coordinator, has implemented his switching D as his signature to a renewed Knicks team. Not surprisingly, as in Atlanta, it is not working and Knicks fans hate it.
The inspiration to write this post came from a rant by Steven A. Smith about the Knicks. Right now, I can tell you that he was beyond heated. He was more of what you call "38 hot". Click the following link to see what Steven A. had to say and why he was so mad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKa-kKxs2J8 I think that the entire commentary is entertaining but I took particular affection for how he feels about that switching D. Forward to 2:46 to hear Stephen A. describing Hawks fans' pain of years.