Taj Gibson was one of the few players left at the Knicks’ practice facility when coach David Fizdale received the news he was sacked after conducting one final practice Friday.
Gibson got a chance to say good-bye, meet with management and a chance to wonder why this had to happen.
“That’s my guy,” Gibson said Saturday before the Knicks fell to the Pacers, 104-103. “We talked, a good talk. Me and Marcus [Morris] went up and talked to him. He was still motivating. He hugged me, he teared up a little bit. We had a good relationship. He told us to keep playing, he’s going to keep watching and told us to keep guys motivated and keep going strong.
“Guys loved him. Guys respected him. That’s what I saw.”
Gibson heard the reasons for Fizdale’s firing from management but said it was confidential. Asked if he agreed, Gibson waffled.
“I’m gonna say I don’t know how to answer that, because I felt like I was learning so much him as a coach,” Gibson said. “But other than a coach being a good guy off the court, just teaching us values, teaching us different things. Hats off to Coach Fiz.”
Rookie RJ Barrett already has his second NBA coach after 22 games.
“It’s tough but at the end of the day it’s basketball and you got to go out and do your job,” Barrett said. “I appreciate everything Coach Fizdale and Coach Smart have done for me. They were the first ones to give me a chance in the league, so I appreciate them. I spoke to Coach Fizdale. [He] wished me the best.”
Barrett made it appear management put a gag order on the players to not reveal what management told them.
“That’s their responsibility [to tell you],” Barrett said. “That’s their job.”
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