Tom Thibodeau brought his trademark style to New York: The Knicks defended well, executed their gameplan, and outworked their opponents night after night. That was enough to earn them a 41-31 record and the fourth seed in the East.
It was also enough to earn Thibodeau Coach of the Year honors.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 7, 2021
Thibodeau won the award back in 2011 when he was coach of the Chicago Bulls. He is the first Knicks coach to win the award since Pat Riley in 1993.
Thibodeau barely edged out Suns coach Monty Williams for the award. Williams had more first-place votes from the 100 media members selected to vote on the award — 45 for Williams, 43 for Thibodeau — but Thibodeau had 10 more second-place votes than Williams (10 voters had Thibodeau third, 19 had Williams third). That second-place voting proved to be the difference, Thibodeau finished with 351 points to Williams’ 340.
Utah’s Quin Snyder finished third, with Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers fourth and Atlanta’s Nate McMillan fifth.
What helped Thibodeau — besides being in a huge and passionate basketball market — is that he helped turn around the culture of a long-struggling franchise, which was more than just instilling Xs and Os. When was the last time you could say, “the Knicks just played harder and smarter than their opponent?” Thibodeau also helped Most Improved Player Julius Randle blossom into an All-NBA level player.