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Tom Thibodeau Signs Contract; Still Refuses To Smile
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau finally signed the contract extension that he agreed to back in October. The new contact pays the third year coach $17.5 million over the next four years. Many wondered why it took so long for Thibs to ink the deal.
“It never was an issue,’’ Thibodeau said according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I don’t know how it became an issue. As I mentioned, the lawyers had it. They were changing language and stuff. Quite honestly, I wasn’t paying attention to it. It was done in October.’’
When most people say they aren’t paying attention to their income, they are either incarcerated or lying through their teeth. However, when it comes to this coach there is little doubt that Thibs was fibbing.
One thing that cannot be taken away from Thibodeau is his laser-like focus on the task at hand. Even though his pre and post game comments leave little to salivate over and sound like a broken record, Thibs knows how to not only run a team, but get the most out of his squad. Regardless of cataclysmic injuries (D-Rose), a completely gutted bench, and a team that often resembles Stevie Wonder when it comes to scoring, the Bulls have learned how to win ugly.
Let’s take a look at Thib’s first three years in the NBA:
- In his rookie year as head coach, Thibodeau led the Bulls to a 62-game winning season. This feat earned him the NBA Coach of the Year.
- By his second year, Thibs became the fastest coach ever to reach 100 wins, doing so in just 130 games. He was also a runner-up for coach of the year. The Bulls had the NBA’s best record during his first two years as coach.
- With Derrick Rose out, the Bulls have refused to play victim, earning another playoff berth in 2013 thanks to Thibodeau’s ability to have all his players buy into his defense-first system.
- He will seriously consider drawing a defensive charge himself as you can see in the video
Not bad for a guy whose vocal chords sound like they’re ripped to shreds in a blender by the first time out of the second quarter. Many would think with all these accomplishments in such a short run, Thibs would be all smiles.
They would be dead wrong.
Thibodeau is one of those guys who will enjoy the fruits of his labor when he’s dead. Until then, there is more than enough reason to focus on the negatives the way an annoying wife will point out everything her husband did wrong even though he took out the trash and picked up the milk at the store.
And that’s exactly why Thibodeau is the perfect coach for this Chicago team. He never settles. He never surrenders. Outside of the awesomeness of Rose, the Bulls are an average team on paper in an NBA that gauges success by how many All-Stars make up a team’s roster. Without any marquee names this season, Thibodeau has figured out how to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Imagine the Heat going on a winning streak without James and Wade. Or the Lakers losing without Bryant, Nash and Howard in the lineup. Oh wait, that happens quite often with or without those future Hall of Famer’s. Thibs has found ways to win despite the lack of big names wearing a Bulls jersey and the rash of injuries that make the team look like it just survived an episode of The Walking Dead and suffered many casualties. Hamilton, Noah, Belinelli, Hinrich and Gibson spent a massive amount of time on the DNP list throughout the season.
What makes the whole thing work, despite how ugly the wins look, is that this team believes in themselves thanks to Thibodeau’s relentless emphasis on selfless basketball.
With another unlikely win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, the Bulls are the one team no one in the East wants to face in the playoffs. Even though the Heat will most likely be in the Finals this June, you can be sure they do not want to face Chicago during the post season.
The same goes for the other strong teams in the Eastern Conference. For the Pacers, Knicks and Hawks, playing the Bulls is like watching a bad foreign film: It’s hard to understand, it feels like it takes forever and by the end you’re exhausted and mentally drained.
There’s valid cracks on Thibodeau’s style. He plays his starters way too long. His intensity is, at times, like a nail gun to the head. But those criticisms fall flat considering the team has bought into it. Deng knows his legs are going to spontaneously combust any day now because he leads the league in minutes per game (39.1). Joakim Noah probably calls his recurring plantar fasciitis “The Thibodeau Curse”. Rip Hamilton was hoping to sail smoothly out of the league instead of limping out in massive back pain.
Yet they haven’t given up or tuned Thibodeau out at all ala Scott Skiles. All the proof this Bulls team needs is in the continued success they make despite the odds.
Perhaps Noah put it best:
From Sam Smith:
“We’ve got a great coach,” Noah said as he began to smile and let out a laugh and you know one of those subtle, understated zingers was coming. “But he doesn’t understand the whole rest thing yet I don’t think. But it’s all good. We all want to win. It’s good.”
It’s good to be Tom Thibodeau today if Tom Thibodeau was someone other than Tom Thibodeau. In other words, there’s no time to smile about a multi-million dollar contract when there’s tape of tonight’s win over Brooklyn to watch into the wee hours of the morning.
Although he probably doesn’t care either way, Thibs has made a strong case for coach of the year.
What do you think?
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