Tom Thibodeau wins award.




Tom The first-year head coach led the Bulls to a 62-20 regular season and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thibodeau, 53, replaced the fired Vinny Del Negro in June, and with a rebuilt roster, the Bulls breezed to a mark that matched their best record since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen completed their second championship three-peat at the end of the 1997-98 season.

Thibodeau’s only other head coaching job was for one season at his alma mater, Division III Salem State, in the mid-1980s. He got that after three years as an assistant.

He then spent four seasons on the staff at Harvard before going to work under Bill Musselman with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989. He won an NBA title while on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Boston Celtics in 2008, where he made a name for himself outside of the inner circles of the NBA. Thibodeau tied Paul Westphal (1992-93 with Phoenix) for most wins by a rookie head coach.

„Thibs, man, [he’s the] coach of the year to me,” Derrick Rose said late in the regular season. „Where he’s just been on us, holding everybody accountable every time we step on the court. With him, we’ve just been ballin’. He’s making sure we go over everything. And our preparation for the game is important.”

Known for his defensive prowess, Thibodeau quickly proved he could handle the duties of a head coach. He spent his summer working with players individually at the Berto Center, and the team quickly adapted to his style, which included long, focused practices and extremely detailed shootarounds before games.

They struck out trying to land LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in free agency, but they wound up with one of the deepest rotations in the league.

Despite missing Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer for long stretches, the Bulls never lost more than two games in a row and finished up the regular season by winning 21 of 23 games.

They also dominated the Central division at 15-1, the lone loss coming at Indiana. On defense, they ranked among the stingiest.


No team held opponents to a lower shooting percentage or outrebounded them by a wider margin than the Bulls, who were also second to Miami in average scoring differential. That was hardly a surprise, given their coach’s reputation.

Players, meanwhile, mention Thibodeau’s presence, his ability to command their attention. And, of course, his work ethic, his attention to detail.

Rose would always see the light on in Thibodeau’s office when he worked out at the team’s practice facility in the summer. On bus rides, Thibodeau’s up front examining the video even in the wee hours.

At shootarounds, the Bulls will analyze every option in their opponent’s playbook, and they will often look toward the sideline when they hear a call during games because their coach knows what’s coming.

The MVP award is expected to be announced Tuesday. If Rose wins as expected, Rose and Thibodeau would be the 12th duo to win both awards.

Jon Greenberg

Source: ; Associated Press, Chicago Tribune

Photos: Jacek Urbańczyk/Polish News