Tom Thibodeau: NBA Coach of the Year

It’s official.

Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald writes: “In his first season as an NBA head coach, Thibodeau led the Bulls to the NBA’s best record at 62-20. That matched Paul Westphal (Phoenix, 1992-93) for the best record by a first-year coach. … He’s the Bulls’ fourth coach of the year, following Johnny “Red” Kerr (’67), Dick Motta (’71) and Phil Jackson (’96).”

And, as ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell and everybody in the Bulls organization points out, the honor was well-earned. Taking a team from 41 wins to 62 wins is a major accomplishment, especially considering the player turnover and the fact that Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combined to miss 60 games.

Said Thibodeau: “I’m flattered, humbled and honored to receive this award, but I think it represents a lot more than just me. And it certainly reflects our team winning and our entire organization.”

Added Bulls GM Gar Forman: “When you look at the numbers this year, it’s easy to see the impact Tom made on this team. This team ended up No. 1 in defensive field-goal percentage, No. 1 in 3-point percentage, No. 1 in rebounding, No. 2 in point differential, No. 2 in points allowed and probably most importantly No. 1 in wins with 62. But to me, it’s about much more than that. It was everybody’s belief here from Jerry Reinsdorf to myself to John (Paxson) and even our players that in order for us to continue to build towards becoming a championship-caliber team that this team needed an identity and base to it. And we needed that base to be built on defense and rebounding. I know Tom felt the same way. What Tom was able to do was create a culture that was based on that.”

Forman really hit the nail on the head there. This season truly was about creating a culture as much as it was about the Xs and Os of basketball. Thibs has instilled so much into this particular Bulls team.

Attention to detail.




Work ethic.

That’s not to say that some or most of the players didn’t already, at times, display those characteristics. But, this season at least, they did it with a night in, night out consistency that was sorely lacking during the Vinny Del Negro era. The Bulls brought all-out effort every night…in large part because Thibodeau demanded it.

Said Noah: “[I’m] very happy for him. Very well deserving. Coach is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. He stays in late. He’s the first one here. He was here for me all summer, working me out, and I feel like I really improved as a player because of him in just one year. Very tough coach. And I’m happy for him.”

Added Luol Deng: “He’s a great coach on and off the court. Just the way we approach games, you can take that into everyday life. It’s about being a man and handling your responsibility. He holds you accountable. Becoming winners and winning 62 games, it became a habit. He brought it from Day One in training camp. We bought into it. He’s very demanding. But he’s right.”

On the surface, the way Thibs runs the team reminds me of the way Scott Skiles did during his tenure. However, based on comments made by some of the players on those teams, Skiles came off as a surly taskmaster. As hard as Thibodeau works this team — and he works them pretty darn hard — the players always talk about him with a respect that borders on genuine affection.

That bodes well for the future. With Skiles, the players got worn down and tuned him out. That may not happen with Thibs. It helps that the players — most notably Derrick Rose — buy into what Thibodeau is selling without any hesitation.

Anyway, congrats, Thibs. You earned it.

5 Responses to Tom Thibodeau: NBA Coach of the Year

  1. Inception May 2, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    can’t imagine where this team would be w/o Thibs…well-deserved.

  2. Nikhil May 2, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    Thibs reminds me a lot of Bill Belichick. I think his success shows that great coaching goes far beyond “x’s and o’s” and really has to do with creating a culture of success that the players buy into. Just like Belichick, the players on this team sound exactly like the coach. They have completely bought into Thibs’s system and it has paid off tremendously.
    Coach T is well deserving of this honor and I hope he has a tenure much more like Jerry Sloan than Scott Skiles.

    cmb2345 May 2, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    Congrats to coach thibs he damn well did deserve this. great job all year long. great article matt couldnt agree more or said it better myself lol…….next up drose MVP MVP MVP!!!!!!

    BoppinBob May 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    No matter what happens this year this Bulls team is now established as a serious threat for the championship going forward for the next few years…Thank you COY Thibs.

  5. Inception May 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Thibs reminds me of Belichick as well….old-school fundamentals, no non-sense type of coach….Thibs does smile once in a while though…Belichick is straight up stoic.

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