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For Knicks coach Woodson, the ring's the thing

Mike Woodson directs his team during a game

Mike Woodson directs his team during a game against the Orlando Magic. (Nov. 13, 2012) Credit: AP

Mike Woodson has tasted success before. He won in high school, earned an NIT title at Indiana and was an assistant on Larry Brown's staff when the Detroit Pistons won the NBA title in 2004.

But there is something missing from his resume, a hole that he badly wants to fill. At the Knicks' final practice Friday before opening what they hope will be a deep run into the postseason, Woodson admitted how much it would mean to him personally if he could coach a team to an NBA title. And how he knows time could be running out for him to do so.

"At the end of the day, our clocks are ticking," Woodson said. "I'm 55. Some of these older guys, they don't have a lot of time left, man. So the urgency of winning is right now."

Woodson, who rarely talks about his personal goals, preferring to talk about the team, gave reporters a rare glimpse of just how badly he wants this team to win it all.

"That's all I coach for, man," Woodson said about winning a title. "If it could happen here in the city of New York with all these wonderful fans that we've had all these years, it would be the most wonderful thing for me."

After practice, Woodson held a team luncheon meeting to talk about the opportunity they have. The Knicks, the second seed in the Eastern Conference, play Game 1 of their first-round series against the Celtics Saturday afternoon at the Garden. The Knicks not only won 16 of their last 18 games but positioned themselves to go deep in the playoffs. They earned home-court advantage in the first two rounds and won't have to face No. 1 seed Miami until the Eastern Conference finals.

"We're going to talk today as a team," Woodson said. "It's not about individuals. It's a team. It takes 16 games to win a title. Those 16 games are going to be the hardest games you can imagine. You have to commit from the start. You [have to] . . . commit to what you want to do."

Woodson has been to the playoffs three times as a coach with Atlanta and once with the Knicks but never has gotten past the second round. Last season, the Knicks lost to the Heat in five games in the first round. This team, he believes, could be something special.

Said Woodson: "We put ourselves in this position, so we've got to like the position we're in . . . It starts now. We're like 15 other teams trying to sniff this championship. I think we've got as good a chance as anybody in this league to get it done."

New York Sports