Tag: Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau has Bulls players’ support despite uncertain future


CHICAGO — In all likelihood, Tom Thibodeau has coached his last game in Chicago. All season, reports have persisted of a strained relationship between the former Coach of the Year and the Bulls’ front office, and following the team’s second-round elimination at the hands of an incredibly shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers team, it’s tough to picture him being back.

Not that Thibodeau will speculate on that. As ever, he likes to stay in the moment, avoiding hypotheticals.

“Unless they tell me I’m not, I expect to be here,” he said after the game.

The process of separation may be long and messy. Thibodeau’s clashes with management, over issues of minutes and rest, are at such a fundamental level that it’s hard to imagine either side budging much. Thibodeau has two more years on his contract. It’s highly unlikely that the Bulls will fire him outright. Not when they could potentially get something in return from a suitor.

And there will be many suitors. Already, the New Orleans Pelicans and Orlando Magic have been widely linked to the coach.

The unusual part of the Thibodeau-Bulls power struggle is that he hasn’t lost the locker room at all, despite his notoriously hard-driving style. On the contrary, players overwhelmingly voiced their support for the coach in the locker room.

“If it was up to me, he’d be back,” said Derrick Rose.

Added Joakim Noah: “I think Thibs is a hard worker who always had us prepared.”

Said Taj Gibson: “If you want to be coached and pushed, Thibs is the coach for you. If you don’t want to get better, this isn’t the team for you.”

Those are strong words from three of the most influential players on this team. They’re probably too late. And now, the waiting begins.

Doc Rivers says Bulls would be “nuts” to let Tom Thibodeau leave

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau is old school, hard-driving, a work-a-holic who is in to win now no matter who is on the roster. If Jimmy Butler has to play 60 minutes in a 3OT game, so be it. Wins are what matter.

Those kinds of coaches, even when they have success, can wear on players and an organization. Throw in the complex, often uneasy relationships Thibodeau has with the Bulls front office — he didn’t want to trade Luol Deng — and you get rumors. Like that the Knicks might chase him. Like that he is not long for Chicago. Those kinds of rumors have swirled around the Bulls all season (and Thibodeau has denied them.

Doc Rivers — who had Thibodeau as an assistant in Boston when they won the 2008 NBA Title — said the Bulls would be nuts to let Thibodeau go, and if they did things would fall apart fast, as reported at CSNChicago.com.

“He’s under contract, so yeah, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be. I think it’d be nuts not to have him here. I think he’s one of the best coaches in the league and so if you have that, that’s an asset. And I don’ think any right-minded organization would allow that asset to leave, Rivers told reporters. “Because with all the adversity they’ve had with injuries, if you allow that one to leave things would fall apart, and that’s pretty much a guarantee.”

“I think every year is his best coaching job, honestly. Last year he went through it, the year before,” Rivers said. “Every year people keep expecting them to fall and they don’t, and the guy that’s standing there is Tom Thibodeau. He’s the guy, he’s the difference, he holds them together somehow. They trade Deng and yet they keep winning. The guy that’s standing every day is Tom, and I think it’s impressive what he’s done.”

“He just doesn’t relent. He doesn’t believe that because a guy gets injured, even Rose, that a team should go away. I think he instills that in his players and he has some pretty good players. Noah is the other guy that stands out to me. They have a lot of like-minded players to Thibs. I think it’s all because they’ve been around Tom.”

No doubt Thibodeau can be hard to work with at times — the best guys, the driven guys, almost always are. You think management in Chicago and Los Angeles always loved Phil Jackson? But if the guy is elite at what he does, you put up with more because he’s so good.

That’s Thibodeau. Chicago can’t let him leave. If he did, there would be a mile-long line at the exit of other teams trying to sign him.

Thibodeau sides with Jordan over LeBron. At least for now.

Chicago Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau yells out during the first quarter of their NBA pre-season basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Chicago, Illinois

Oh good, more LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan discussion. Because we haven’t beat Man O’ War enough.

At least this time the opinion comes from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who had to coach against both (he was an assistant with the Knicks in the ‘90s). He was asked about it Tuesday night and he used logic in his answer — Maybe we should wait until LeBron is closer to the end of his career before we define it and compare him to the all-time greats.

Here’s the quotes, via Aggrey Sam at CSNChicago.com.

“They’re different, but I think with all those type of comparisons, those are tough to make because I don’t think you can do it until LeBron’s done, so to speculate now, I guess it makes for interesting conversation. But you have to wait. And they’re both great, and what Jordan did was incredible, but who knows?…. Kobe’s had a great career, LeBron’s had a great career and LeBron’s still young, so there’s still a long way to go for him. But Jordan kept so much pressure on you in so many different ways and it’s a different game now than it was. Back then, it was a lot more physical than it is today.

“I would say [Jordan was the toughest player to game-plan against], because of all the problems that he caused and the way he dominated, to win six championships and unfortunately, I was a part of the other end of that with the Knicks and those were some great battles, and I thought we had a great team in New York, but what he did was just incredible. But you can make a case for a lot of guys and like I said, we have to wait until a guy’s career is over before we draw any comparisons.”

Wait until we all the facts before we jump to conclusions? What a quaint notion, Thibs.

LeBron is not yet near Jordan’s iconic legacy and likely never reaches that level. But the fact that we are even debating this, that we are comparing him to Jordan in a serious way, shows how far LeBron has brought his game. He has matured mentally enough to take advantage of physical gifts that even Jordan couldn’t match. But what separated Jordan wasn’t physical, it was mental, and we’re not sure LeBron can really achieve that.

Or, we could wait and have this conversation closer to the end of LeBron’s career. Like Thibs suggested.