The New York Knicks announced on Monday that they had fired their head coach Derek Fisher. In his stead for the remainder of the 2015-16 NBA season, Kurt Rambis will man the helm at Madison Square Garden. Rambis is an NBA veteran as both a player and coach, and takes over a reeling Knicks team that has lost nine of its last 10 games to begin a dangerous descent which may see them fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Rambis will now be looked to to provide leadership and discipline to a team that started they season playing hungrily, but has recently appeared uninspired during long stretches of contests. The Knicks are 23-31 this season after going 17-65 in Fisher’s first season. New York’s current skid may have contributed to the timing of the move, but the team was reportedly already convinced Fisher was not transitioning from the role of player to coach as effectively as they had wanted.
Find out everything you need to know about Rambis, the Knicks’ new head coach.
1. Kurt Rambis, Along With Many Other Knicks Coaches, Is a Phil Jackson Disciple
Kurt Rambis was a Lakers assistant for 14 seasons. He won four NBA championships with current Knicks president Phil Jackson as the Lakers head coach and, Derek Fisher as the team’s point guard. The rest of the Knicks coaching staff also includes longtime Jackson associate Jim Cleamons, former Oklahoma City assistant Brian Keefe and the Lakers’ Rasheed Hazzard.
Rambis was brought in to New York prior to last season to help then-rookie head coach Derek Fisher write up practice plans, select training-camp offensive and defensive drills and often help give discourse in the triangle offense. But Rambis also hoped to help Fisher to cope with the pressures of coaching in New York.
2. Rambis Interviewed for the Vacant Lakers Head Coaching Job in 2014
A longtime Laker presence, Rambis interviewed for the Lakers’ coaching job towards the end of the 2013-14 season after Mike D’Antoni had resigned. Even though he had such deep roots in the franchise, Rambis figured he would not get the job, as another big name Laker, Byron Scott, was also interested and was presumed as the favorite to land the job.
Like the Knicks, the Lakers are a once-proud franchise who are struggling through lean times at present. Scott is still the coach in Los Angeles. Rambis had actually, briefly, coached the Lakers once before in a head coaching capacity. During the 1999 NBA lockout season, after prior head coach Del Harris was fired, Rambis served as the Lakers interim head coach. Rambis registered a 24-13 record and guided the Lakers into the Western Conference Semifinals. Following that season, Phil Jackson was hired as head coach of the team, and Rambis settled into his advisory and assistant coaching role with the team.
Of his 2014 interview to go back to L.A., Rambis said:
“I didn’t feel at the top of their list, I really didn’t,’’ Rambis said. “There were internal rumors about Byron. Why they waited so long, I have no idea.”
3. Kurt Rambis Was a Former Draft Pick of the Knicks
Rambis actually got his professional basketball start with the New York Knicks. Drafted by Knicks in the third round of the 1980 NBA Draft as the 58th pick. Rambis recalls that he was nervous on draft night. Rambis, who grew up in Cupertino, Calif., a suburb of San Jose, was excited about playing the NBA. But, once he was drafted by the Knicks, he viewed New York as the other side of the world by his young adult standards.
Rambis was subsequently released from the Knicks in training camp. He then ironically had to travel to the other side of the world. Rambis joined the Greek League team AEK Athens. He experienced success in Greece, actually winning the Greek Cup with AEK Athens in 1981.
4. Rambis Made His Name as an NBA Player With the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers Teams
His NBA player career kicked off when he was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers on September 13, 1981. He went on to become one of the most celebrated role players in NBA history, as well as a fan favorite in Los Angeles. Rambis spent 10 of his 14 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, winning NBA championships in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988 in Los Angeles as a member of the Showtime Lakers led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Rambis also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings before returning to the Lakers in 1993.
Throughout his playing career, Rambis was a favorite among Lakers fans because of his status as an overachieving underdog. Playing the power forward position, he was known for his defensive and rebounding skills, but he was also an efficient clean-up man on offense. Rambis’ field goal percentage reached 59.5 percent at the peak of his career.
5. Rambis Was an ESPN Analyst for 2 Years
Between 2011 and 2013, Kurt Rambis took time off from the coaching world and worked as a basketball analyst for ESPN. His time interacting with people at the top of the basketball world helped him to cover basketball and provide ESPN followers with in-depth team picks, post-game analysis, and player reviews. He returned as an assitant coach to the Lakers for one season in 2013 before joining Jackson in New York in 2014.
Rambis currently lives in Manhattan Beach, California with his wife, Linda and their 3 children in the offseason. The Rambis family is active in the beach volleyball community. The family’s eldest son, Jesse Rambis played professionally and his daughter, Ali, was on the Santa Clara University volleyball team. Jordan, the youngest son, currently lives in Los Angeles where he is active in the entertainment industry as a producer.