If Coach Thibodeau isn’t Coach of the Year again….I quit!
With the success of the Bulls over the past couple of years, many attribute it to the 6'3, 190 pounds guard and reigning MVP from Englewood by the name of Derrick Rose. But in this shortened season plagued by injuries, the major constant is the 2011 Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau.
He started off as an assistant coach on the collegiate level at Salem State University in 1981 and became the head coach in 1984. He then moved on to Harvard University where he coached for four seasons. He followed the same pattern when he entered the NBA. He served as an assistant coach from 1989 until offered the head coach position for the developing Chicago Bulls in 2010. Over those 21 years, he was an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics. He worked under notable coaches such as Jeff Van Gundy, John Lucas and Doc Rivers.
Thibodeau is known for being a defensive minded assistant and now coach. While working with the Celtics, his defense helped the C’s contain Kobe Bryant and get a ring in 2008. In 2010, 21 days after being interviewed for the vacancy for the Chicago Bulls, Thibodeau was announced coach.
In the two years before Thibodeau became the Bulls coach, the Bulls were 41-41 each year ending their season in the first round of the playoffs. In his first season as a coach, the Bulls ended their season 62-20, not only #1 in the East but also #1 in the league. Their season ended in the Eastern Conference Finals in the arms of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and their Miami Heat. The huge transformation from being a 500 team to being the #1 team and over 500 stamped Thibodeau’s Coach of the Year honor on May 1, 2011.
Now he is getting ready to wrap up his second regular season as a head coach, he is fighting for yet another Coach of the Year bid. This season has been different and made it apparent why he can be considered a great coach. Leading the #1 team in the league sounds easy when you have the MVP star player in Rose. However, this has not been a healthy season for the stars in Chicago. Rose has missed 22 games in which the Bulls still pushed to win 15 and lose only seven. Richard Hamilton has missed 36 games and Luol Deng has missed nine. Aside from starters, there have been some injuries in the bench from CJ Watson who has taken Derrick Rose’s place in the starting line-up.
Through all these injuries, Thibodeau has motivated the team to continue their game, maintain their defensive stance and keep winning. The way the Bulls have pushed past contenders without their stars, to hold the top record with their original starters playing only 11 games together furthermore shows that Thibodeau has paved his way to another Coach of the Year honor.
Some will say that Scott Brooks deserves it because the media has painted Oklahoma City Thunder as the team of the season with the favored player for MVP. Or some will even say Greg Popovich because of how he has silently lead the Spurs to be one of the most dangerous teams on the West. But Brooks hasn’t faced the same adversities of injuries and working around those adversities to still have a contending team. Pop is working with veterans and a future hall of famer which makes life a little easier. Thibs on the other hand, has been making bench players look like they can be successful starters on any team.
Although the ring is the motivation for this season, I know that if Coach Thibodeau does not receive the recognition he deserves nor the extension on his contract, then there are some problems.