July 8, 2004
(Atlanta-AP) -- Before Mike Woodson would agree to coach the Atlanta Hawks, he had to know that Billy Knight, his longtime friend, would stick around as general manager.
Woodson said today that Knight was the big reason he took the Atlanta job. He said, "I really stressed in my interview the importance that if I took this job he would be around to see me through it, because I have a great deal of respect for Billy and I have known him for 25 years."
Knight has been around most of Woodson's career. When Knight began his NBA playing career with the Indiana Pacers in 1974, Woodson attended Broad Ripple High in Indianapolis. While still in high school, Woodson managed to talk his way into some workouts with the Pacers. Later, the two were teammates for two seasons with the NBA Kansas City Kings.
Knight said,"We developed a friendship over the years. It wasn't bosom buddies where we traveled on vacations, but we got together once in a while." Bernie Mullen, chief of operations for the Hawks, said Woodson's concern about Knight's future with the team will be addressed.
Knight has one year remaining on his current contract. The Hawks' new nine-man ownership team gave Knight full authority in selecting the new coach.
The 46-year-old Woodson was Larry Brown's top assistant last season for the NBA champion Detroit Pistons. He previously was an assistant with Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers and was an assistant with Cleveland (1999-01) and Milwaukee (1996-99).
Woodson announced today he has selected Brown's older brother, Herb Brown, to serve as his top assistant with the Hawks. Herb Brown, who also had been an assistant in Detroit, attended the news conference.
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