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Wilkens Takes Over As New Coach of Knicks

January 15, 2004

GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) _ Lenny Wilkens officially took over as the New York Knicks’ coach Thursday, saying he’s familiar with most of the players and his job will be to ``make them better.″

``I’m kind of anxious to get going,″ said Wilkens, flanked by Cablevision chairman James Dolan, Knicks special adviser Willis Reed and Knicks president Isiah Thomas. ``I’m excited about it.″

Wilkens _ who has more wins and more losses than any other coach in NBA history _ replaces Don Chaney. He was fired Wednesday a few hours before the Knicks beat the Orlando Magic 120-110 under assistant Herb Williams.

Wilkens will coach the Knicks for the first time Friday night against the Seattle SuperSonics, a team Wilkens played for and coached to the 1979 NBA title.

``I’ve watched the Knicks play, and I’m very familiar with Allan Houston,″ said Wilkens, who also coached Dikembe Mutumbo in Atlanta. ``Now I have to get a feel for how they play together.″

The coaching change is the latest in a series of major moves by Thomas, who succeeded Scott Layden late last month.

Thomas turned over about half the roster and a majority of the coaching staff, and also acquired All-Star guard Stephon Marbury.

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