TCD exclusive: My dad is Mike Woodson, NBA coach

What is it like growing up with Mike Woodson as your dad?

New York Fans called him Mr. Potato Head or the Steve Harvey look-a-like, but I called him dad.

Living the life as a child of the NBA, you grow accustomed to certain things.

One is seeing your dad on TV every other night. For some, that might be pretty awesome, but for me it’s just another day in the Woodson household.

Is there a lot of glitz and glam with this NBA life? Eh, not all the time — just a lot of basketball!

And there’s a lot of watching the Dallas Cowboys during football season. That’s his team.

My dad began his coaching journey shortly after my sister and I were born, which was a few years after his retirement from his 12-year NBA career.

So, we never saw him play professionally, but the way he tells it — he was a “deluxe shooter”, and the “12th pick in his draft.” Insert giggles from us kids and my mom rolling her eyes every time he’d say this!

Let’s just say, life is never dull with Mike Woodson around!

If you ask any of his players (well, most), they would more than likely say he’s a complete goofball.

My dad has shared countless stories about his players pranking him, and even smacking him upside his bald head. Literally.

I’ve witnessed most of these stories first hand, and I just shake my head every time.

I guess it’s true when women say that men never grow up! HA!

However, the NBA life isn’t always glitz and glam. And certainly not fun at times. Ask any NBA kid, it gets tough having to spend holidays and birthdays away from your dad.

Though we eventually grow accustomed to it, it’s still never easy. I can’t count the amount of birthdays and holidays my dad missed due to games.

Let’s not even talk about having to pack your bags and move from state to state and school to school because your dad got traded, fired or got a new job.

Or the times you catch yourself going back and forth with foolish fans on social media who are publicly attacking and criticizing your dad.

And the times you have to hear mean kids at school talk about how your dad sucks and they hope he gets fired — yeah, not fun.

But enough with the depressing stuff…

Right before my dad got his first head coaching gig, he won a NBA Championship as an assistant head coach under Larry Brown with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

If you don’t remember, this is the Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton Pistons team. 

We were the underdogs, but came out on top against Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Huge deal and hands down one of my favorite teams my dad has coached.

Photo credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The ONLY complaint I have about the championship experience is not receiving my own personal ring!

Children did not receive rings. My mom got a ring, and she did just as much cheering in the stands as I did — I was not happy.

Then there was the championship parade which was super exciting. All of Detroit was shut down to celebrate us!

I remember the scorching hot weather and drunk fans cheering and running up to our cars trying to touch the players and coaches.

Overwhelming? Yes! But it’s a memory that will last me a lifetime.

Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Afterwards, my family packed up and moved to Atlanta when he got his official head coaching job with the Atlanta Hawks. And boy was that an experience.

Coming from a championship team to a 12-70 team (basically the worst record in the NBA) was umm, an adjustment.

But we made it through! Eventually the Hawks made the playoffs, and then fast forward six years later and my dad ended up getting fired — but oh well! Welcome to the NBA. It’s part of the job. “Hired to get fired” as my dad always says.

We later moved to New York when he was hired as the New York Knicks head coach. The big apple.

But this stint wouldn’t last as long as the ATL — two years in, my dad got the axe by Phil Jackson. Again, nothing personal, just part of the business I guess.

But I can’t say I’m mad, because it brought us to LOS ANGELES!

The city of Angels and perfect weather. Home of the LA Clippers… And that other LA team. HA! Sorry Lakers fans, the Clippers run the city as of 2018!

My dad is currently the assistant head coach of the Clippers, and let me tell ya — it’s a fun time to be a Clippers fan.

So basically, to sum it up, my life consisted of school, working, traveling and cheering at basketball games! How could i ever complain?

My dad has coached in pretty awesome cities and I’m incredibly thankful and blessed to be on this crazy ride with him!

Go Clips!

— Mariah



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