Atlanta Hawks Name Mike Woodson Their New Head Coach
New Hawks Head Coach Mike Woodson (center) with
Atlanta Spirit President & CEO Bernie Mullin and Hawks GM Billy Knight
THEIR NEW HEAD COACH
Former Pistons assistant becomes the 10th full-time coach of the franchise
ATLANTA, GA (July 8, 2004) ----- The Atlanta Hawks have named Mike Woodson as the team's new head coach, it was announced today by General Manager Billy Knight. Woodson, who becomes Atlanta's tenth head coach since the franchise moved to the Atlanta area in 1968, spent this past season as an assistant on the staff of the World Champion Detroit Pistons. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not released.
"I am very excited about hiring Mike as our new head coach," said Knight. "He has paid his dues and is very deserving of this opportunity. Mike has all of the qualities I was looking for in a head coach as we went through this process. He possesses a tremendous work ethic and he's an excellent motivator, something that is very important to our franchise and ownership group as we move forward. As a former player who has worked tirelessly as an assistant for several years, learning from a couple of Hall of Fame coaches along the way, Mike will be able to handle the transition of his new position and bring a passion of winning to the Hawks.
"Fans will see the same level of intensity he displayed on the court as an opponent of mine, a teammate of mine and as an assistant coach. We'll be well prepared and compete hard every night on both ends of the floor as he takes our team to another level. Mike will represent our organization very well and I look forward to working with him."
The top assistant on Larry Brown's Pistons staff, the 46-year-old Woodson has 19 years of NBA experience as a player and coach, and served three-of-the-last nine seasons as an assistant under Brown in both Philadelphia (2001-03) and Detroit. He also worked as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers (1999-01) and the Milwaukee Bucks (1996-99).
"As many assistant coaches around the league would tell you, we all strive to reach this level," said Woodson. "Becoming a head coach in the NBA has been a goal of mine for many years and I've patiently waited for an opportunity like this one. I am very appreciative of the support I've received thus far from Billy and the new ownership group and while there's a lot of work to do, I am in this for the long haul.
"Working with Coach Brown taught me a great deal about what is necessary to accomplish success in this league, and winning the championship was a tremendous achievement for all of us. With the new management team in place in Atlanta, I'm ecstatic about the challenge of bringing this program back to a competitive level. While understanding there's a lot of work to do and it is not going to happen overnight, if we can put the necessary pieces around the young kids we've drafted, we will build this product into a winning team."
One of the chief architects behind the Pistons' suffocating defensive effort during the 2003-04 regular season and the playoffs, Detroit held the opposition to 84.3 points per game this past year, which equaled the league's best total defensively (along with San Antonio).
In addition, the Pistons' point differential of +5.84 was the second-best in the NBA and they limited opponents to 41.4 field goal shooting, the league's third-best performance. During their 23 postseason games, Detroit intensified their efforts defensively, holding teams to 80.7 ppg and 39.2 FG shooting, and in the five-game Finals series against Los Angeles, the Pistons kept the Lakers more than 16 points under their regular season average and hounded them into shooting 41 percent from the floor.
"The Atlanta Spirit ownership group is extremely excited to welcome Mike to our family," said Spirit owner Michael Gearon, Jr. "Billy has worked extremely hard during this process to bring the most qualified and talented person to our team, and we feel we have that in Mike. He brings championship experience to the Hawks and we will all learn from him. As a former player, he knows how to get the players' respect and assist them in their development. Mike's professionalism and the knowledge he has gained from coaches like Bob Knight and Larry Brown will prove to be invaluable as we continue to instill a winning attitude within our community."
The 11-year veteran and 6-5 guard played for seven teams in the NBA after he was selected in the first round of the 1980 Draft by the New York Knicks with the 12th overall pick. In 786 career games, Woodson averaged 14.0 points (10,981 career points), 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 25.5 minutes of action, enjoying his best campaign in 1982-83 when he played for the then-Kansas City Kings and posted 18.2 points per game. Woodson and Knight were teammates the following year and helped the Kings to a third-place finish in the Midwest Division (38-44) and a first round playoff berth against the LA Lakers.
In addition to the Knicks and Kings (both in Kansas City and Sacramento), Woodson also played with New Jersey, the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston and Cleveland, before retiring from the game in 1991. His teams advanced to the playoffs five times, where he averaged 12.2 ppg, 2.6 apg and 2.3 rpg.
Drafted out of Indiana University, Woodson, in his junior season, helped lead the Hoosiers to the 1979 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) championship with a 53-52 victory over conference foe Purdue and was named to the All-Tourney team.
During the summer of that year, he played for Bob Knight and captained the United States team that participated in the Pan Am Games, joining teammates Isiah Thomas and Ray Tolbert in winning the gold medal.
A two-time All-American (1979 and 1980) and four-year letterman, Woodson suffered a herniated disc in his back after five games (and a No.1 ranking) into his senior campaign and had to undergo surgery. Upon losing Woodson, Indiana went 7-5 in the Big Ten, but once he returned, IU finished the conference season at 6-0 and captured the Big Ten title. Despite the limited action, Woodson took home the league's 1980 MVP award.
The fifth-leading scorer in IU history with 2,061 points, Woodson averaged 19.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in 104 games with the Hoosiers. He graduated with a degree in physical education.
Woodson, born March 24, 1958 in Indianapolis, Indiana, attended Broad Ripple High in Indianapolis. He and his wife Terri have two daughters, Alexis and Mariah.
QUOTES FROM OTHERS ON MIKE WOODSON:
"Mike Woodson is a great choice for the Atlanta Hawks. He has always been a real student of the game and is absolutely ready for a head coaching position in the NBA. Not only was he a tremendous player, but Mike's leadership always made those around him better. I think his absolute determination to excel and his genuine interest in helping those around him succeed speak to his readiness to lead the Hawks."
-- Former Indiana and current Texas Tech coach Bob Knight
"I'm pleased that Mike Woodson has been given the opportunity to become a NBA head coach. He was a great assistant coach for us last season and I think his experience will serve him well in the future."
-- Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars
"Mike Woodson is one of the best coaches I've been associated with and he has meant a lot to me over the last three years. I'm happy that he has a chance to be a NBA head coach with Atlanta and he will be a great addition to their organization."
-- Detroit Pistons Head Coach Larry Brown
|Mike Woodson's Regular Season Stats|
|11 Season Totals||786||20021||10981||14.0||4368||9364||.466||2125||2615||.813||120||443||.271||1838||2.3||1822||2.3||952||275||1331|
|Mike Woodson's Playoff Stats|
NYK - New York Knicks; KCK - Kansas City Kings; NJ - New Jersey Nets; SAC - Sacramento Kings;
LAC - Los Angeles Clippers; HOU - Houston Rockets; CLE - Cleveland Cavaliers