New Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau grew up in New Britain, Conn., And still owns his old home – 85 miles from the Knicks practice site in Tarrytown.
During his introductory Zoom press conference on Thursday, Thibodeau cited his new position as “his dream job.” He said it four times.
“This is a real dream for me,” Thibodeau said. “This is my dream job.… Maybe part of it, I grew up in Connecticut. My dad, my family, we grew up as Knicks fans. I’ve been there before, I have a great understanding of New York. “I think we have the best city in the world, the best arena and the best fans. I was there during the ’90s and it was an extraordinary experience.”;
For the first time in nearly eight months, the Knicks officially have a permanent head coach. They announced it on the first day of the resumption of 22 NBA teams as the Knicks try to restore their dead franchise that was lost in the playoffs seven years straight.
Larry Brown once called the Knicks “dream job” and left after a 17-65 disaster. Thibodeau is a former assistant coach from the glory days of the 1990s, who went on to become the marquee coach with the Bulls and even broke the 13-year drought in Minnesota in 2018.
But now Thibodeau could face a bigger task with James Dolan’s Knicks moribund. Asked how he could turn a perennial mess, Thibodeau did not refrain from mentioning a championship, which the team has not won in 47 years.
“You do not make big jumps without going through each step,” he said. “So I think the first step is to set work ethic and how we want to play. There’s a lot of work to be done. One of the most important things when studying a team is just looking at efficiency and when you see your own. [net rating] is a minus-6.54, you realize there is a lot of work. And hopefully we can get the players to play for each other and start building those habits.
“Of course the ultimate goal is to return a championship to the city, where it is synonymous with victory and championship, and that in New York.” ‘
Knicks president Leon Rose will be on the hook if Thibodeau’s old-school manners do not work. Rose, his former agent at the Agency for Creative Artists, said there was “a level of comfort” in hiring Thibodeau because of their long-term relationship.
Rose called the 62-year-old Thibodeau “the perfect candidate for the job from the point of view that he will seek responsibility, he will have development and he will create a winning culture”.
“We hired not only an excellent basketball coach, but an elite coach,” Rose said. “His principles and goals embody everything that Knicks basketball represents.”
On Saturday, Thibodeau agreed on the terms of a five-year deal. Some league insiders estimate the deal could be worth at least $ 25 million – even with a pandemic discount likely to make his Knicks debut play without the fans in attendance.
Thibodeau thanked Dolan in his prepared speeches and listed 15 coaches from whom he had received announcements – from Jeff Van Gundy to Bill Musselman. And Thibodeau called the former Knicks coaches he worked with “the best staff ever assembled. Boys like Brendan Malone, Don Chaney, Jeff Nix, Steve Clifford, Andy Greer, Mike Malone – many of the top coaches in the league today. ”
Thibodeau took the Timberwolves to the playoffs, but allegations he did not link up with the new Minnesota players led to his firing in January 2019.
Thibodeau declined to go into details about Minnesota.
“It was more of a total rebuild, a team that had not won much for a long time,” he said. “So I think you get from every experience, but every experience is different.”
Sources indicated that Thibodeau was intrigued by the possible opening in Houston, but said he was withdrawn from the Knicks because of the flexibility of the cap and their election wealth (first seven rounds in the next four drafts).
“The three main reasons why this job was so appealing to me was the current list we now have is young and talented and there is room for growth,” Thibodeau said. “This is exciting for me. Secondly, it ‘s about working for Leon and Wes [William Wesley], two people I have known for an extremely long time. And third are all the choices that have been won and also the cover space. We have many different ways to improve the team. ”
Thibodeau tried to spread his reputation as a weight training coach, without humor, trained with basketball, who has no other life. He joked with this tall Knicks writer, saying, “I can’t believe you’re still around” and denied all he did during unemployment was visit other team practices – which he did a lot.
“I went on vacation a couple of times,” Thibodeau said. “I know people do not think I do it. But I walked away and lay on a beach in Miami for a few weeks.”
The Knicks interviewed 11 candidates over seven weeks, but Thibodeau was reported as the forerunner all the time.
“We took due care of this research,” Rose said. “We were open-minded and listened to many diverse candidates with different philosophies. The versatility of the search is what we feel the fans deserved. We wanted to get it right. “