Tom Thibodeau: New, Strong Leader for the Chicago Bulls



It’s expected that the Chicago Bulls will improve a lot this year. Not just because of all the pieces they’ve added in free agency, but because the front office also made a huge upgrade at Coach with Tom Thibodeau replacing Vinny Del Negro. I asked power forward Taj Gibson about the difference in coaching styles from last year to this year.

“One coach is more of a laid back player coach and not so aggressive. And Thibodeau, he’s more aggressive, more hands-on, he’s like a drill sergeant. Not saying Vinny didn’t, but he expects you to do things on a higher level. The way their coaching styles are- it’s just totally different,” he answered.

And that hard line, tough love approach could be exactly what the Bulls need when they open up their season Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.

By Paul M. Banks

There were plenty of people criticizing Vinny Del Negro and rightfully so, but he did land on his feet with a new job coaching the Los Angeles Clippers. But my favorite example of Vinny criticism comes from The Book of Basketball by divine orator Bill Simmons. On the topic of NBA coaches (p. 146):

You have your top guys-usually three or four a year- and everyone else ranges between functional, overrated, replaceable, incompetent, “my God, what a train wreck,” and Vinny Del Negro.

But Thibodeau now comes in with a no-nonsense persona and a reputation for leading teams that play great defense. And defense is quite possibly what last year’s Bulls team could have used most.

“He’s experienced a lot in this league, and he’s seen a lot, so you can’t try to b.s. him, because he knows. He’s been through it,” center Joakim Noah said of “Coach Thibs.”

Thibs helped the Houston Rockets rank among the Top 5 in the league in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense from 2004 to 2007. His team finished in the league’s Top 10 in team defense 15 times. He coached in 87 playoff games and was part of the 1999 NBA Finals as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks prior to joining the Celtics, with whom he won the 2008 NBA Championship.

Thibodeau comes from the Celtics to lead the Bulls in his first chance as a NBA Head Coach. He’ll do so in a reshaped and more top-heavy Eastern Conference.

“When you put three players together like that, obviously they (Miami) are going to be really good, I think the challenge for them is how quickly they come together. When you look overall at all the things that have happened in the East, things have gotten tougher. When you look at a team like Boston, they had a lot of pieces and they added, so if they’re healthy, they’ll be right there,” Thibodeau said.

However, he does have a lot of talent to work with, and inherits a situation much more positive and conducive to building a winner than your typical first time coach.

“Obviously I was not going to leave Boston unless it was a great opportunity that had everything I was looking for, a good young nucleus, cap space to  add players in free agency, and I love the type of guys that we added,” Thibodeau said about what he has to work with.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter, Yardbarker Network, and Fox

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank


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