NEW YORK • The end for Derek Fisher as coach of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) New York Knicks came after nine losses in 10 games, after nearly 100 losses in less than two seasons, and after fans had filled Madison Square Garden with boos on Sunday.
Phil Jackson, the team president, met Fisher on Monday to fire him. Their conversation was short and to the point, as Jackson said: "There's not a whole lot to say. He said he understood."
Jackson, who had not addressed reporters since the start of training camp, announced that Kurt Rambis, formerly Fisher's top assistant, would serve as interim coach for the rest of the season.
Fisher had to go, though. "It was time for us to make a change," Jackson said, "turn this team around and move forward and get some wins."
Fisher, who had been increasingly contentious with the media as his team foundered in recent weeks, finished with a 40-96 record - the second-worst coaching record in franchise history, ahead of only Larry Brown, who was 23-59 in his lone season.
The Knicks dropped to 23-31 after losing on Sunday to the Denver Nuggets, the third straight game in which they fell behind by a huge margin in the first half and laboured to mount a comeback.
After a promising start, the team have swiftly tumbled out of play-off contention.
In June 2014, Fisher accepted a five-year deal worth US$25 million (S$35 million) including incentives to replace Mike Woodson.
As a point guard, Fisher had won five NBA titles - all with the Los Angeles Lakers and all with Jackson as his head coach. However, he had no prior coaching experience.
In his first season, the Knicks had a 17-65 record - the worst season in franchise history. He largely got a free pass because the roster was bereft of talent.
But the Knicks spent millions on free agents last summer, signing veterans like Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo. At the same time, Jackson pledged before the start of training camp to be more involved in team affairs, especially when it came to advising Fisher.
On Monday, though, Jackson indicated that there had been lapses in his communication with Fisher.
NEW YORK TIMES