Feb. 25, 2009
Mike Woodson has brought success to everyone and everything he has touched through his loyalty and hard work. From his role as a team captain at Indiana to being a head coach in the National Basketball Association, he has consistently helped make others better.
Michael Dean Woodson was born March 24, 1958, in Indianapolis, Ind. He attended Broad Ripple High School in the city, the same school as late night talk show host David Letterman. As a standout high school player, he was recruited by Bob Knight at Indiana to play for his hometown Hoosiers. The decision was easy.
Woodson was a two-time All-American at Indiana, including the 1978-79 season when he averaged 21.0 points per game (including a 48-point effort vs. Illinois) and led the Hoosiers to a National Invitation Tournament Championship.
He was named team captain for the United States in the Pan American Games in the summer of 1979 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The team, coached by Knight and assisted by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, won all nine of its games en route to the gold medal.
Woodson was the leading scorer for the U.S. with 18.3 points per game. Playing with future NBA players and Big Ten alumni Kevin McHale (Minnesota), Ray Tolbert (Indiana) and Ronnie Lester (Iowa) along with future Indiana standout Isaiah Thomas, the championship had quite a Big Ten flavor.
After returning to campus in the fall, Woodson underwent surgery for a herniated disc in his back five games into the 1979-80 season. He missed 12 games, but came back just in time for the Hoosiers to win their final six conference games and capture a Big Ten title. Despite missing nearly half his team’s game, he was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player and led his team to the NCAA Tournament. Woodson finished his Hoosier career with 2,061 points, a 19.8 per game average and a degree in physical education.
Woodson was the 12th overall pick of the New York Knicks in the 1980 NBA draft. He played for six different franchises in seven different cities over his successful 11-year NBA career, totaling close to 11,000 points in his career.
With his playing days behind him, Woodson entered the coaching ranks. His on-court leadership made him a natural fit on the sidelines. Milwaukee would be his first stop, landing an assistant coaching job with the Bucks in 1996. After a stint in Cleveland, Woodson joined Larry Brown’s staff in Philadelphia and then Detroit, where he helped lead the Pistons to the 2004 NBA Championship.
Woodson was named head coach of the Atlanta Hawks in 2004 and has seen an increase in wins in each of his first four years at the helm. Now in his fifth year, his team reached the playoffs for the first time in his tenure last spring, taking the eventual-NBA Champion Boston Celtics to seven games before losing in the first round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs.
“(Woodson) has always been a real student of the game,” Knight told Atlanta reporters upon Woodson being named head coach. “Not only was he a tremendous player, but Mike’s leadership always made those around him better.”
In 2006, Broad Ripple High retired Woodson’s number. His success began in both Indianapolis and Bloomington, and returning to the state where it began 30 years earlier was that much more special because of it. His oldest daughter Alexis followed in her father’s footsteps and is attending Indiana as a member of the volleyball team.
Then again, Indiana has always been in the family.