As one of the NBA’s most respected veteran coaches, Jerry Sichting brought a championship pedigree and a distinguished resume to New York when he joined the Knickerbockers as an assistant coach on Jul. 20, 2016.
Currently in his second season with the Knicks, Sichting came to New York after having served three years (2013-14 through 2015-16) as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns.
“The thing that I love about being here is all the interest,” says Sichting, 60. “The market is huge, obviously, and there are so many people that pay attention to the Knicks. When you’re in one of the bigger markets, I think it should motivate people to do their very best and really try to put the best product you can out on the floor. There’s a lot of passion here for basketball, there always has been and there always will be. You really want to do your best there because this is a huge place where people are always paying attention.”
The 2017-18 season marks Jerry’s 19th year as an NBA assistant coach. New York is the latest stop on his long and varied career as a coach, player - during which he earned a championship ring with the fabled 1986 Celtics - and in the front office. His arrival in New York reunited him with Head Coach Jeff Hornacek, with whom he also worked alongside in Phoenix.
“All of our coaches were guys who played hard and played tough, scrapped and clawed and did all that stuff to help their teams win,” says Hornacek. “Jerry coaches the same way. He’s very knowledgeable on both sides of the ball. His focus will be on the offensive side, I had him doing that with me in Phoenix, too. The experiences he’s had, playing with the likes of Larry Bird and Dennis Johnson. Dennis and Jerry were both point guards, so Jerry can really focus on a guy like Frank (Ntilikina) and the young guys to help teach them. What do you see, what do you look for when you come down the court? Again, with the knowledge of experienced coaches and what they went through; Jerry can definitely do that with our young point guards.”
“The younger players you have, the more teaching there is,” adds Sichting. “You like to have some veterans who will help lead the way and do a lot of whispering in the guys’ ears and give them little secrets and such. But as a coach, you know that you really have to pay attention to detail when you have a young team. When you have a veteran team that’s been together for three or four years, you have a lot of continuity and you can skip a lot of things early on. But when you have a lot of young players who haven’t been in your organization, there’s a lot of teaching to do. You have to be very positive so they don’t get down.”
Sichting’s NBA coaching career began with a 10-year stint (1995-96 through 2004-05) as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves under the late Flip Saunders. He returned to the Minnesota bench for an additional two years (2007-08 and 2008-09) under Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale. For eight years in Minnesota (1996-97 through 2003-04), he served as the Wolves’ director of scouting and player development in addition to his coaching duties, and was the Wolves’ director of pro personnel in 2009-10. Jerry was also an assistant coach for Golden State in 2010-11 and Washington in 2012-13.
In 2006-07, Jerry served as an assistant coach under Tom Crean at Marquette University. In 2011-12, he left the NBA temporarily to take the head coaching reins at his alma mater, Martinsville (IN) HS. Sichting’s post-playing hoop career began with four years (1991-92 through 1994-95) as radio color analyst for the Boston Celtics alongside Glenn Ordway.
Jerry’s 10-year NBA playing career as a point guard (1980-81 through 1989-90) was marked by his hard-nosed, blue collar style of play, as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 assists over 598 games with five teams. Sichting played his first five NBA seasons with Indiana, scoring a career-high 11.5 points for the Pacers in 1983-84. He then played three seasons in Boston, posting 6.5 points over the full 82 games as a key member of the Celtics’ 1986 NBA Championship squad, named one of the 10 Greatest Teams in NBA History during the League’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1996-97.
Sichting averaged 9.9 points over four years at Purdue University, and captained the 1978-79 Boilermaker squad that won the Big Ten Championship. He was originally drafted by Golden State in the fourth round (82nd overall) of the 1979 NBA Draft, playing one season in the CBA prior to starting his NBA career. Jerry is enshrined in both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (2002) and the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame (2012).
A native of a Martinsville, IN, Sichting (pronounced CEASE-sting) and his wife Joni have four grown children: Jared, Jason, Jordan and Jenna. Jared played on Marquette’s 2003 NCAA Final Four team. Jerry and Joni also have two grandchildren; Jason’s daughter Lexi and son Warren.
Jerry was born on Nov. 29, 1956, sharing a birthday with Hall of Fame sportscasters Vin Scully (1927) and the late Bob Wolff (1920).