Connecting the dots — Fitchburg to the KnicksPosted: November 21, 2012
Life is a long, lasting litany of links. Connect the dots and find the connection between people and events past, present and future. Recently, I discovered my connection to the New York Knicks.
The story begins in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1977, when a young coach, fresh out of Fitchburg State College, led Notre Dame High School to a 26-2 record and a state championship.
That coach was Jim Todd, below right. And as a sportswriter with the Fitchburg Sentinel & Leominster Enterprise, I wrote about Todd and his Notre Dame Crusaders.
Within a few years, both Jim and I moved on. I took my talents to South Florida and a slot position with the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.
Todd worked as head coach at Fitchburg State, and later as an assistant at Columbia University for his Notre Dame predecessor, Arthur “Buddy” Mahar.
Then, 30 years ago this week, I moved north to take a communications position with IBM in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
And shortly after arriving in New York, I bumped into Jim Todd at Marist College. Jim was an assistant at Marist, where he coached future NBA center Rik Smits and helped lead the Red Foxes to their first NCAA appearance.
Todd coached at Salem State in Mass. from 1987-96 and led the team to eight NCAA Division III NCAA tournament appearances. He then went to the NBA as assistant coach with the Bucks and Clippers. On Feb. 3, 2000, he succeeded Chris Ford as head coach of the Clippers.
Less than a month later, I went to a Knicks game at Madison Square. That afternoon the Knicks beat the Clippers and new head coach Jim Todd, whose team finished the season 4-33.
Todd later was an assistant with the Raptors, Hawks and Kings. And on St. Patrick’s Day, 2012, Knicks coach Mike Woodson added Todd to his staff.
“Jim adds a lot of experience to our staff,” said Woodson. “We started together 16 years ago in Milwaukee, and then our paths didn’t cross for a long time. He went in one direction and I went in another, and we could never hook back up.
“Then when I had the opportunity to bring him to Atlanta, I jumped on it because of the fact that he has a great mind for the game. That’s why he’s here with me in New York. I’ve been pretty successful with Jim in terms of winning, and he brings a wealth of experience.”
The Knicks finished strong last year before losing to the Heat in the playoffs. And this year they’re off to one of the best starts in team history. The last two times the Knicks started a season 8-1, they went on to win the NBA Championship.