CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a game day for the Nets, so DeAndre Jordan was in his professional cocoon, staying totally off social media. When two reporters approached him before the game against the Hornets on Friday night, he was caught off guard when asked about the Knicks’ decision to part ways with coach David Fizdale.
Jordan spent the last half of last season on the Knicks playing under Fizdale, and he was taken aback by the news.
“That sucks,” he said. “Obviously, I haven’t seen or heard the story. I love Fiz. He treated me well when I was there — and my family. He’s a great motivational guy, he’s competitive. Obviously, he was down there [in Miami] and they won some championships. So that’s unfortunate. That sucks.”
Just the other day, Kenny Atkinson, who is in his fourth year as the Nets’ coach, became the longest-tenured pro coach in the New York metropolitan area when the Devils fired John Hynes. Fizdale lasted barely more than one season.
“It doesn’t make you feel good as a colleague and a friend, quite honestly,” Atkinson said. “So I know it’s part of this business. We know how tough this coaching business is, but he’s an excellent coach. He’ll be back for sure. But you never like to see a colleague lose his job. It doesn’t make you feel good.”
In the other locker room at the Spectrum Center, Hornets coach James Borrego played under Fizdale in college at San Diego University, and Fizdale later helped him get a job in the NBA as video coordinator with the Spurs. So it was even more personal.
“Tough day,” Borrego said. “Fiz is a friend, someone I have great respect for, someone who helped me get in this business. Tough to see. Unfortunate part of our business, but he’s a heck of a coach, great friend. Thinking of him today, and I support him. Tough day.”