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InsideHoops NBA [HOME] Jan. 15, 2004

Allan Houston Interview




Wednesday night it was announced that the New York Knicks have fired head coach Don Chaney and hired the legendary Lenny Wilkens as a replacement. The announcement came shortly before a Knicks home game in Madison Square Garden against the Orlando Magic. Assistant coach Herb Williams acted as head coach tonight. The Knicks handled the Magic and won. After the game, guard Allan Houston was interviewed by multiple reporters., of course, was there. Below is the full interview, from start (give or take a question) to finish. is the only place where you'll find the complete interview.

Question: From what you know of Lenny Wilkens, what do you expect from him as a coach?

Allan Houston: I don't know too much. From talking to guys who played for Lenny, he was a guy who as kind of like Don (Chaney), fun to play for, but our goal right now is to not really worry about so much the person, but try to really get to the point where we're consistently getting wins now. We're getting used to each other, we know what we're trying to do out there, and our goal is just keep improving. And win some of these games that we're suppossed to be winning. And that's what's going to get us over the top.

Question: Lenny has credentials. Hall of fame coach, NBA all-time winning coach. Is there excitement about having this type of guy come in?

Allan Houston: Well yeah, he's been doing it a long time, and that's one of the things that you know, he's had a lot of experiences, and we know that you're going to benefit from a lot of those experiences that he's had, and he's seen a lot of combinations, and a lot of things happened, so at this point we want to just take what he can give us and move forward.

Question: Was it hard focusing on everything going on and the game tonight?

Allan Houston: I think the difficulty in focus was more in preparation for the game. You hear a buzz going around, you just hear so many things that are happening, but once you get out there you know you have a job to do. That's really the thing Isiah said. We're expected to perform. You're basketball players, you're entertainers, when you're out there, missing shots, nobody cares - or making shots - what happened before the game. You just have to go out there and do your job.

Question: How strange was it to be playing for an assistant coach, thinking about what was going on?

Allan Houston: It was a little different, playing for somebody, for me, who I actually played with. So that was different. But the thing is, you know that Herb (Williams) was well prepared. Even when we were playing together, he was coaching on the bench, and doing a lot of that. You know he was prepared. I think having guys that have been around, that have been in this system for a while, we knew what we were trying to get done, it was almost like we were helping each other out. He was helping us, and we were kind of trying to help him, too.

- - - - - - - - - -

Question: Will it be challenging being under a new coach and seeing additional changes take place?

Allan Houston: It's going to be a challenge, because that's just how it is. You have a new head of your household. All you can do at this point is do your job, within what he's trying to do. He'll learn a lot about what our strengths are and what he wants to do with this team. The bottom line is getting to the point where we can be consistently on a winning path. The challenge will be, when you have new key players come in, they have to get used to you, and you have to get used to them. In a coaching situation, he's going to be running the team. I don't know what to really expect right now. I don't know what to expect. As long as we can move forward.

Question: Do you wish things had gone better for the team, for Don Chaney?

Allan Houston: I think as a competitor, as a guy who played for him, there's part of you that said, man, just wished we could have done a little bit better of our job, but you can't dwell on that, you can't lose sleep because you don't think you did your job. We did the best we could, he did the best he could. There's going to be a time when I'm not going to be here anymore, and I'm going to hold my head up, and I'm sure he's holding his head up, saying he did the best he could.

Question: When a guy like Lenny Wilkens comes in, is there an automatic respect factor, because of his resume and all his wins?

Allan Houston: I think there is a respect factor. We still have to make it work now. There's going to be a respect factor, but the bottom line is, those credentials add validity, but at the same time we're still here and now, and we have to make it work.

Question: With all the changes that have happened over the last couple of weeks, is it hard to stabalize, thinking that there may be more changes?

Allan Houston: Just deal with it. There's nothing else to do. You can't think about what's going to happen. I'm sure even as coaches and players, we don't know, nobody knows. All you can do is take one day at a time, say I'm doing my job today, I'm trying to help this team reach its goal. And that's all you can do. You can't think about what's going to happen or what's not going to happen in the future, as long as you're doing your job right now, that's how we have to focus.

Question: Could you feel this coming, Chaney's firing?

Allan Houston: The only way I felt it coming is because of what I kept hearing from you guys (laughs). If we didn't keep hearing about it, we never would have suspected it coming.

- - - - - - - - - -

Question: How crazy a day was this?

Allan Houston: It was a strange day. It was a strange day. But at the end of the day, you do your job. It's nothing that we're not used to, being here. We've had it before. It makes you focus even more, really. Because if you haven't gone through this or been used to this, it could be a distraction, but the fact that we've been through this before, as a professional you have distractions. I'm sure we, as well as entertainers or performers, they have things that happen to them, but they have to go out on the stage, we have to go on the court, and do our jobs.

Question: How long do you think before another change occurs?

Allan Houston: I have no idea. Who knows.

Question: Do you think one will be made?

Allan Houston: I don't know. I don't know. Who knows.

Question: What have you learned about Isiah after seeing all the moves he's making.

Allan Houston: That he just wants to tighten our ship up and he wants us to win. He clearly understands the nature of the game, and he understands relationships, but he wants to win. He wants to get the New York Knicks where they should be. And that's what he wants to do. And in a way, you can't fault him for that. After what I've been through, from when I first got here, and after I've been through what I've been these last two years, it's no fun. It was a lot of fun my first few years here. And bottom line, in any job, if you're not producing, it could be any one of us. You run that risk. If you have an organization that expects excellence... and I think what he's trying to do is he's trying to bring an expectation of excellence with players, coaches, management, everything. He's trying to set a standard. If that takes making these changes, that's what he's going to do. He just wants to win.

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