Wilkens Denies He Was Asked To Go
Lenny Wilkens appeared taut as he departed the Knicks eight months ago, dressed somberly in a dark blue suit and reading awkwardly from a statement intended to mask his frustration.
Wilkens returned to New York yesterday for a charity benefit. He wore a relaxed smile and a sparkly ring commemorating the gold medal won by the United States national team in the 1992 Olympics. His pride is intact, even if his tenure with his hometown Knicks was too short and too tumultuous for his liking.
In what was termed a resignation, Wilkens vacated his post on Jan. 22, a little more than a year after he was hired.
Speaking about his abrupt departure for the first time, Wilkens insisted yesterday that he had left on his terms. Yet he hinted more than once that he wanted to stay. A variety of unspecified issues made it impossible, he said.
"Naturally, it was disappointing," Wilkens said. "We had injuries, we had all kinds of problems. We were all never on the same page." Asked if he was referring solely to the roster turmoil, or to individual player agendas, Wilkens pressed a thin smile and said, "Everything."
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