Gregg Popovich reacts to Knicks hiring Tom Thibodeau
At long last, the New York Knicks’ head coaching vacancy has been filled by a familiar face among NBA fans, as Tom Thibodeau is now the head coach of the Knicks. Thibodeau’s fellow Team USA coach Gregg Popovich commented on the hiring of Thibs with fairly glowing praise, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
“Tommy’s a seasoned veteran who it goes without saying understands what wins and what loses. He knows how to put a program together, create a culture and be demanding — and at the same time, make people accountable.”
Certainly, Thibs has shown the ability to create a winning culture immediately, as his early successes with both the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves convey. Of course, the concern has never been Thibs’ ability to get results, but rather the longevity of his plans as a head coach.
Thibs burst onto the head coaching scene in the 2010-11 season with the Bulls, and the team won an Eastern Conference-best 62 games that year – ahead of the Big 3 Miami Heat team that dominated headlines all year.
Of course, that success did not last, as the team never approached that lofty win total for the rest of Thibs’ tenure there (the team won 50 games twice more, that was it). Much of that had to do with the injuries that Derrick Rose suffered.
Thibs keyed a turnaround for the Timberwolves when he took over the head coaching gig in 2016-17. It took him one season to help return the team to the playoffs for the first time since the Kevin Garnett era with the help of Jimmy Butler. However, the Timberwolves fired Thibs in January of 2019 after the Butler trade drama.
While it seems unlikely that Thibs will be able to maneuver the Knicks into the playoffs anytime soon, he is a widely respected figure – as the quotes from Pop indicate.