Tom Thibodeau

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Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau cropped.jpg
Thibodeau as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2011
Personal information
Born (1958-01-17) January 17, 1958 (age 58)
New Britain, Connecticut
Nationality American
Career information
High school New Britain (New Britain, Connecticut)
College Salem State (1977–1981)
Coaching career 1981–present
Career history
As coach:
1981–1984 Salem State (assistant)
1984–1985 Salem State
1985–1989 Harvard (assistant)
19891992 Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)
19921994 San Antonio Spurs (assistant)
19941996 Philadelphia 76ers (assistant)
19962004 New York Knicks (assistant)
20042007 Houston Rockets (assistant)
20072010 Boston Celtics (assistant)
20102015 Chicago Bulls
Career highlights and awards

As head coach:

As assistant coach:

Thomas Joseph "Tom" Thibodeau, Jr. (pronounced THIB-a-doe;[1][2] born January 17, 1958) is an American basketball coach who last coached the Chicago Bulls. Since June 2013, he's served as an assistant coach for the USA Basketball Men's National Team.[3]

As a defensive coach, he helped the Houston Rockets rank among the Top 5 in the league in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense from 2004 to 2007,[4] and has helped his team finish in the league's Top 10 in team defense 15 times.[5] He coached in 87 playoff games and was part of the 1999 NBA Finals as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks prior to joining the Boston Celtics, with whom he won the 2008 NBA Championship, serving as a defensive coach. In 2011 he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Bulls to a 62-win season. In 2012, he became the fastest coach in NBA history to earn 100 victories and finished as the runner-up for Coach of the Year.

College and early coaching career[edit]

Thibodeau played basketball at Salem State College, serving as captain during the 1980-81 season. During his time with the Vikings, the six-foot-two-inch Thibodeau helped Salem State to consecutive Division III national tournaments (1980–81). In 1980, Thibodeau helped Salem State to the league championship and the school's first NCAA Tournament bid. Upon graduating, he became an assistant coach at the school in 1981. In 1984, at the age of 25, he became head coach at Salem State after serving three years as an assistant. One season later he became an assistant coach at Harvard University, where he spent the next four seasons.

While coaching in college, Thibodeau would attend coaching clinics and visit the practices of many of the top coaches in the U.S., including Hall of Fame coaches Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Hubie Brown, Gary Williams, Morgan Wootten, and Jim Calhoun.[6] In 1987, Thibodeau befriended Bill Musselman, a former head coach in the NBA, ABA and NCAA who was coaching the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. According to the New York Times, "the Patroons’ practices, the attention to detail, the efficiency, the sheer number of offensive sets, fed into Thibodeau’s addiction."[7]

NBA[edit]

After four years at Harvard, he entered the NBA in 1989 as an assistant coach with an expansion team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had hired Bill Musselman as the team's first head coach. Prior to the 1991–92 season, he joined the Seattle SuperSonics as an advance scout.

Thibodeau (left) as part of the Houston Rockets coaching staff with then head coach Jeff Van Gundy

Thibodeau moved to the San Antonio Spurs the following season, where he worked as an assistant coach to Jerry Tarkanian, Rex Hughes and John Lucas for two seasons. After the 1993–94 season, he left the Spurs along with Lucas to become an assistant under Lucas with the Philadelphia 76ers. After the 1995–96 season, he again left simultaneously with Lucas, this time joining the New York Knicks as an assistant to head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

During his tenure with the Knicks, he helped the team set a then-NBA record by holding 33 consecutive opponents under 100 points in the 2000–01 season. As part of the Knicks coaching staff, he also helped Van Gundy to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2000 All-Star Game. He spent seven years with the Knicks before joining the Houston Rockets prior to the 2003–04 season, where again he was an assistant to head coach Van Gundy, who has described Thibodeau as "brilliant".[7]

Boston Celtics[edit]

Thibodeau (right) as part of the Boston Celtics coaching staff

On August 30, 2007, Thibodeau was named associate head coach of the Boston Celtics,[8][9][10] who hoped to bolster their defense with his hiring.[11] Eventually, he helped the Celtics become the best defensive team in the league with his expertise.[12] On November 4, 2007, Thibodeau took over head coaching duties against the Toronto Raptors in place of Doc Rivers, who was unable to coach due to the death of his father earlier that day.[13]

During the 2008 playoffs, Thibodeau had been rumored as a candidate for the vacant head coaching job with the New York Knicks, for whom he had worked as an assistant coach for seven years, as well as the Chicago Bulls.[14][15] However, he wasn't hired as the head coach of either franchise.

Thibodeau led the Celtics to the best rating in several defensive categories in 2007–08,[5] and was a key factor in containing Kobe Bryant during the 2008 Finals.[16]

Chicago Bulls[edit]

On June 2, 2010, Thibodeau interviewed with officials from the Chicago Bulls for their vacant head coach position.[17] On June 23, 2010, he was confirmed as the Bulls' head coach. Thibodeau was named the NBA Coach of the Year on May 1, 2011, after tying the record for most wins by a rookie head coach with 62. He also led the Bulls to their first 50-win season and first division title since the Michael Jordan era.[18] The Bulls lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat.

On February 14, 2012, Tom Thibodeau clinched the position of Eastern Conference All-Star Coach for the All-Star Game in Orlando. At the time, the Bulls were first in the Eastern Conference.[citation needed]

With a win over the Orlando Magic on March 19, 2012, Thibodeau became the fastest coach in NBA history to earn 100 career victories. He accomplished this in 130 games, one game fewer than the record set previously by Avery Johnson in 2006.[19] Thibodeau and the Bulls were the East's top seed entering the playoffs and also had the league's best regular season record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.[20]

In Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL.[21] Thibodeau defended his decision to keep Rose in the game with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining in the game and the Bulls leading by 12 points.[22] Commenting on Thibodeau's decision, Bulls general manager Gar Forman stated, "There is absolutely no issue there. It's a playoff game. They had cut a lead down (from 20) to 12. We're going to have our guys on the floor making sure we win the game. Tom is a terrific coach who does a lot of things well. One of the best things he does is pace our team."[23]

Thibodeau finished second to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 NBA Coach of the Year voting. The Bulls season was cut short after a 4-2 defeat to the 76ers.[24]

left to right: Jim Boeheim, Monty Williams, and Thibodeau served as assistant coaches for the 2014 United States FIBA World Cup team.

Rose missed the entire 2012–13 season, but despite his absence, the Bulls finished 45-37, second in the Central Division (behind the Indiana Pacers) and 5th in their conference. They defeated the Brooklyn Nets 4-3 (after leading 3-1) in the first round of the playoffs and lost to the Miami Heat 4–1 in the next round. On May 13, 2013, Thibodeau received a $35,000 fine for criticizing the referees during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat.[25]

Thibodeau finished third in 2014 NBA Coach of the Year voting. He led the second year straight Derrick Rose-less Bulls to the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. However, the Bulls' season ended with a 4-1 series loss to the 5th seeded Washington Wizards.[26]

Tension between Bulls front office and Thibodeau grew considerably over the 2014-15 season, which ended in a 6-game series loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Shortly following this loss, on May 28, 2015, the Bulls fired Thibodeau.[27]

Head coaching record[edit]

College[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Salem State Vikings (Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference) (1984–1985)
1984–85 Salem State 9–17 4–8[28] 7th
Salem State: 9–17 4–8
Total: 9–17

NBA[edit]

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Chicago 2010–11 82 62 20 .756 1st in Central 16 9 7 .563 Lost in Conf. Finals
Chicago 2011–12 66 50 16 .758 1st in Central 6 2 4 .333 Lost in First Round
Chicago 2012–13 82 45 37 .549 2nd in Central 12 5 7 .417 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Chicago 2013–14 82 48 34 .585 2nd in Central 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First Round
Chicago 2014–15 82 50 32 .610 2nd in Central 12 6 6 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
394 255 139 .647 51 23 28 .451

Coaching style[edit]

He has been called "one of the best coaches in the NBA",[29] consistently ranking among the top five coaches in the league among NBA general managers.[30]

Highly regarded as a defensive strategist, in January 2013, ESPN praised Thibodeau's defensive system as "the pinnacle of team defensive strategy in the NBA."[31] However, according to a 2010 Boston Globe article, "one of the many misconceptions about Thibodeau is that he’s strictly a defensive specialist." Jeff Van Gundy hired Thibodeau because he was drawn to "his innovative offensive sets" and "player development skills."[32]

Player development[edit]

Thibodeau has been described as a "no-nonsense coach, but his personal authenticity and the success of his strategies endear him to his players."[31] According to Kevin Garnett, who played for Thibodeau in Boston, Thibodeau is "a worker. He's a guy that loves his job. He does it with passion."[33]

In 2005, while an assistant with the Houston Rockets, Thibodeau began working with Yao Ming, traveling to China to hone Yao's skills.[34] According to Jon Barry, a former NBA player who worked as an assistant with the Rockets, "Thibodeau was an effective one-on-one teacher [who spent] countless hours ... working with Yao Ming on his footwork...."[35] During the 2004–05 season, Yao averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The following season, after working with Thibodeau, Yao averaged 22.3 points and 10.2 rebounds.

A number of Thibodeau's former players have praised him for his ability to develop their talent. According to Joakim Noah, who played for Thibodeau with the Bulls, "I feel like I really improved as a player because of him."[36]

Personal[edit]

A native of New Britain, Connecticut, Thibodeau was born to Thomas J. Thibodeau Sr., and Ann M. (Montanile) Thibodeau and has four siblings (two brothers and two sisters).[37] He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in counseling from Salem State University. In 1998, he was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame.

Thibodeau has never been married.[38] According to a 2012 New York Times article, Thibodeau was engaged while he was in graduate school at Salem State, but called it off a month or two before the wedding.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eric Zorn, What the H? How 'Thibs' says his last name, Chicago Tribune, March 21, 2011.
  2. ^ "Thomas THIBODEAU Obituary - New Britain, CT - Hartford Courant". Hartford Courant. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ "USA Basketball - Tom Thibodeau". Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ Tom Thibodeau – Associate Head Coach, Celtics.com
  5. ^ a b Christopher L. Gasper, It all stops with mastermind Thibodeau, The Boston Globe, June 4, 2008.
  6. ^ Brion OConnor/Special to the Gazette. "Coach Thibodeau journeys from Salem State to the NBA". Wicked Local. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Man Is a Coach. Period.". The New York Times. 29 April 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ Celtics Add Thibodeau to Coaching Staff, Celtics.com, August 30, 2007.
  9. ^ New England native Thibodeau named Celtics assistant, Associated Press, August 30, 2007.
  10. ^ Celtics add coach, The Boston Globe, August 30, 2007.
  11. ^ Peter May, Thibodeau is Celtics' minister of defense, The Boston Globe, November 1, 2007.
  12. ^ Mark Murphy, Celtics regular season report card, Boston Herald, April 19, 2008.
  13. ^ Allen's last-second 3 caps milestone day as C's nip Raps, Associated Press, November 4, 2007.
  14. ^ Alan Hahn, Knicks interested in Celtics assistant coach, Boston Herald, April 23, 2008.
  15. ^ Thibodeau on radar – Assistant may be in line for top job, Boston Herald, April 24, 2008.
  16. ^ Frank Isola, Boston's Tom Thibodeau helps stymie Kobe Bryant, Lakers, New York Daily News, June 7, 2008.
  17. ^ K.C. Johnson, Bulls heading home after Thibodeau interview, Chicago Tribune, June 3, 2010.
  18. ^ "Thibodeau named 18th head coach in franchise history". NBA.com. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. June 23, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Tom Thibodeau fastest to 100 wins as Bulls unload on Magic". ESPN.com. March 19, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Bulls bash Cavs, clinch top seed". Fox Sports.com. April 27, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  21. ^ Johnson, K.C. (April 28, 2012). "One horrific play, and Rose's season over". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  22. ^ Modrowski, Roman (April 28, 2012). "Tom Thibodeau defends decision". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  23. ^ Johnson, K.C. (April 29, 2012). "Bulls GM Forman stands by Thibodeau". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  24. ^ 76ers Upset Bulls To Advance To Second Round, The Sports Network. May 11, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  25. ^ "Tom Thibodeau fined $35,000". NBA. May 13, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2012. 
  26. ^ "2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year Media Voting Results" (PDF). NBA. April 22, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  27. ^ Fridell, Nick (May 28, 2015). "Tom Thibodeau out in Chicago as Bulls seek 'change in approach'". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  28. ^ http://web1.ncaa.org/app_data/statsPDFArchive/MBB2/E/Men%27s%20Basketball_Men%27s_Division%20III_1985_621_Salem%20State%20College.pdf
  29. ^ Kevin Draper. "Tom Thibodeau Is Even More Intense Than You Thought". Deadspin. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  30. ^ "NBA: 2015 Front Office Rankings -- Top coaches". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "The book on Tom Thibodeau". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Attention to detail". Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  33. ^ "New Bulls coach Thibodeau knows both sides of the ball - USATODAY.com". Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  34. ^ "CelticsGreenBlog.com celtics fans only!: Tom Thibodeau - Defensive Guru". Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  35. ^ Scott Cacciola (10 May 2011). "Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau Is NBA's Regular-Guy Coach - WSJ". WSJ. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau wins NBA Coach of the Year Award". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  37. ^ Mike McGraw (25 November 2010). "He's on the ball: Bulls' Thibodeau off to a good start". Daily Herald. Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  38. ^ Greenstein, Teddy. [1], ChicagoTribune.com, May 14, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2011.

External links[edit]