Van Gundy Resigns As Knicks Coach
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NEW YORK (AP) _ Jeff Van Gundy resigned unexpectedly as head coach of the New York Knicks on Saturday, just as the team was playing its best basketball of the season after a slow start.
The stunning decision came a day after Van Gundy ended practice early because he thought his players lacked intensity.
Team spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said Van Gundy told Knicks president Scott Layden he was quitting as head coach of a team he took to the playoffs in each of his seven years, including a trip to the 1999 NBA Finals.
Assistant Don Chaney was to coach New York against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, but the team hadn’t chosen a head or interim coach, Surpranowitz said.
The Knicks won five of their last six games to move above .500 entering Saturday’s game.
The 39-year-old Van Gundy had been a member of the Knicks’ staff, serving as an assistant under Pat Riley, Don Nelson and Stu Jackson, since 1989.
Van Gundy’s only other head coaching job was at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, N.Y.
He leaves as the third-winningest coach in team history with a record of 248-172, including 10-9 this season. He led the team to the 1999 NBA Finals, where New York lost to San Antonio, and the 2000 Eastern Conference finals.
Van Gundy planned to make a statement at the team’s practice facility in Purchase, N.Y., on Saturday afternoon.
Including this season, Van Gundy had two years remaining on his contract.