Tom Thibodeau will be presented with the NBA Coach of the Year award Sunday afternoon, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.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, was a long-time NBA assistant coach, starting in 1989 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. 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.
“He’s definitely competitive, but that’s what we want,” Joakim Noah said in early December. “That’s what we want our identity to be, even though it’s frustrating at times because you’re tired. But I think he knows what it takes to win. That’s the beauty of it. I feel like he’s been in championship locker rooms before, and not everyone has the chance to play for somebody who’s experienced it before. You know he knows because he’s been there and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Despite missing 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.
The MVP award is expected to be announced Tuesday. If Derrick Rose wins as expected, Rose and Thibodeau would be the 12th duo to win both awards.
The news was first confirmed by the Chicago Tribune.Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.