He then spent four seasons on the staff at Harvard before going to work under Bill Musselman with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989. From there, Thibodeau embarked on a long path that ultimately led to this.
There were stops in San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York and Houston, and along the way, he developed a reputation as a defensive wizard and hardworking assistant, one that continued to grow in Boston.
The unknown, though, was how he would fare as the guy in charge.
“I knew in the first couple of weeks that he was here that we had hit a grand slam,” general manager Gar Forman said.
They struck out trying to land LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in free agency, but they wound up with Boozer and one of the deepest rotations in the league.
It helped that Derrick Rose took another big leap, going from Rookie of the Year to All-Star and now an MVP favorite in just his third season.
“That’s not something that every head coach does,” he said. “To work out a player individually every day in the summer, to me that says a lot. At the same time, I feel like your coach is your leader.”
Not since the Jordan-Pippen era have the Bulls been this good. They lost back-to-back games only four times during the regular season and never dropped more than two in a row, despite the injuries to Boozer and Noah. 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.
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.
About the only thing they don’t understand is why it took so long for the 53-year-old Thibodeau to get hired. His name often came up when there were openings the past few years, including Chicago’s in 2008, but the wait stretched on.
Now, look at him.View Entire Story
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