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Knicks introduce Wilkens as new head coach

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New York, NY (Sports Network) - The New York introduced Lenny Wilkens as their new head coach at a Thursday afternoon press conference. Wilkens becomes the 21st head coach in franchise history and replaces Don Chaney, who was fired prior to Wednesday's game against Orlando. Assistant coaches Brendan Malone and Lon Kruger were also sent packing. Herb Williams, an assistant under Chaney, guided the club to a 120-110 victory over the .

Wilkens will make his New York coaching debut on Friday when the host the Seattle .

"You have very few opportunities in your career to be able to bring in one of the greatest players and coaches in NBA history, and we are very excited to be able to do that today by hiring Lenny Wilkens," team president Isiah Thomas said. "His experience and leadership skills as both a player and a coach will be invaluable as we battle to get the franchise back to its proper place at the top of the NBA."

Wilkens is the all-time winningest NBA coach with 1,292 victories. Under Wilkens, the won the NBA championship in 1979. Wilkens, whose record is 1,292-1,114, has also coached Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta and Toronto. He is one of just two coaches to lead four different teams to 100 wins.

"If you enjoy something, do it! And I really enjoy working with today's talented young players," Wilkens said. "And not only that, I'm here working for the ! It's tremendous! I'm overwhelmed! So I'm going to do it -- coach, that is -- as long as I can."

In 1996, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal at the Atlanta Games. He mutually agreed to leave his position as head coach of the Toronto after the 2002-03 season after three years at the helm. This will be his 31st season as a head coach in the NBA.

Chaney had guided the to just a 15-24 mark this season and a 72-112 record since taking over for Jeff Van Gundy on December 10, 2001. He had come under heavy scrutiny of late and was serenaded by fans at home with loud chants of "fire Chaney."

Chaney, who joined the ' coaching staff in August 1995, was in his fourth head coaching stint. He won NBA Coach of the Year honors by leading the 1990-91 Houston to a 52-30 mark.

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