Head Coach, New York Knicks
Tom Thibodeau was named Head Coach of the Knicks on July 30, 2020, becoming the 31st head coach in franchise history. Thibodeau returned to the franchise 17 years after his first stint with the Knicks, where he spent 7 years as an assistant coach from 1996-2003. In his first season as head coach, Thibodeau guided the team to its first winning season since the 2012-13 season. Thibodeau topped off his first year with the New York Knicks by winning 2020-2021 NBA Coach of the Year.
Prior to becoming the Knicks head coach, Thibodeau was the Head Coach and President of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Under Thibodeau’s leadership, the Timberwolves snapped a 13-year postseason drought in 2017-18, finishing with a 47-35 record, a 16-game improvement from the previous season which marked the second-largest increase in wins in the NBA. Minnesota was 30-11 at home in 2017-18, including a 13-game home unbeaten streak, the third-longest in franchise history. The Wolves were one of six teams in the NBA with 30+ home wins – equaling the third-best home mark in franchise history. They also recorded a 66 consecutive game streak without losing two games in a row. Overall, the team set 15 new franchise records including points per game (109.5), field goal accuracy (47.6%), free throw percentage (80.4%), made three-pointers (658), fewest turnovers (12.5 to/g) and fewest personal fouls (18.2 pf/g). In games against teams in the competitive Western Conference, the Wolves finished tied for the second- best record (34-18).
Additionally, in 2017-18, the Timberwolves had two players named to the All-NBA Third Team (Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns) to mark the second time in franchise history that two Wolves have been named to All-NBA Teams in the same season. The duo was also named All- Stars, just the fourth pair of teammates in franchise history to be named to the All-Star Game in the same year.
In their first season under Thibodeau (2016-17), the Timberwolves had one of their best offensive seasons in franchise history, recording then-franchise records in field goal accuracy (46.7%) and free throw accuracy (79.9%) and had their then second-most points per game ever (105.6 ppg). Additionally, the Timberwolves’ young core all realized significant increases in scoring efficiency: Karl-Anthony Towns from 18.3 to 25.1, Andrew Wiggins from 20.7 to 23.6 and Zach LaVine from 14.0 to 18.9. In 2016-17, the Wolves also ranked fifth in the NBA in total rebounding percentage (.516) and third in offensive rebounding percentage (.272).
A veteran of 29 seasons along the NBA sidelines, Thibodeau’s teams have advanced to the postseason in 19 seasons, including three trips to the NBA Finals (1999, 2008, 2010) and winning an NBA Championship in 2008. Before returning to Minnesota, Thibodeau served as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2010-15. In five seasons with the Bulls, his teams compiled 255-139 win-loss record during the regular season, won two Central Division titles, and participated in five consecutive NBA Playoffs. Known as an elite defensive mind, Thibodeau’s teams have ranked in the top two in the league in defensive field goal percentage in nine of his last 12 seasons. He is one of two coaches in NBA history (Steve Kerr) to win the most games in the league each of his first two seasons.
In 2010-11, his first season as head coach, Thibodeau guided the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals, the team’s first appearance in the Conference Finals since the 1997-98 season. The Bulls also won the Central Division title, en route to the franchise’s sixth 60-win season in team history with a league-best record of 62-20 (.756). The 62 wins in 2010-11 broke Phil Jackson’s franchise mark (55 in 1989-90) for most wins by a first-year Bulls head coach, he became just the third coach (along with Paul Westphal and Bill Russell) in NBA history to win 60 or more games in his first year as a head coach, and his 62 victories tied Westphal for most wins by a first-year head coach in league history. Additionally, he was named the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year.
In year two with the Bulls, Chicago posted a league-best record of 50-16 (.758), including a league-best road record of 24-9 (.727), en route to a second consecutive Central Division crown and the NBA Playoffs. Thibodeau broke the NBA record for reaching the 100-win plateau the fastest by winning his 100th game in his 130th contest as a head coach (03/19/12). Under Thibodeau’s leadership during the 2011-12 season, the Bulls set franchise records for Fewest PPG (88.2), Opp FG% (.421) and Rebound Margin (+6.7). He directed the Eastern Conference All-Stars at the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando, Fla., and finished as runner-up for the 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year.
During Thibodeau’s five-year tenure in Chicago, the Bulls finished with five consecutive winning seasons on the road (a franchise record). Additionally, the Chicago Bulls had an 86 consecutive game streak without losing two games in a row (the second longest streak of its kind in NBA History). In his five seasons with Chicago, the Bulls’ defense ranked in the top three in both points allowed and defensive field goal percentage four times, including allowing a franchise-low 88.2 points per game in 2011-12 (the fewest points allowed in the NBA since 2004).
In the summer of 2013, he was named to Mike Krzyzewski’s staff as an assistant coach for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. As a member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball Men’s National Team coach staff, Thibodeau assisted the USA to a 9-0 record and a gold medal finish at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Prior to winning the World title, he helped the 2014 USA National Team compile a 4-0 record during its exhibition tour. In 2016, Team USA stayed undefeated with a 5-0 exhibition record and 8-0 Olympic record on their way to a third consecutive gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.
Before joining the Bulls, Thibodeau served as associate head coach of the Boston Celtics from 2007-10, a stretch that saw the Celtics reach the NBA Finals twice and win the 2008 NBA Championship. In 2007-08, his first year with the Celtics, Boston held its opponents to 90.3 PPG (a then franchise record), an improvement of 8.9 PPG from the previous season, and limited its foes to an NBA-low .419 field goal percentage (a franchise record), down from .468 the year before. During Boston’s 2008 playoff run that culminated in the franchise’s NBA-record 17th world championship, the Celtics held the Los Angeles Lakers to 93.8 PPG and .441 field-goal percentage in the NBA Finals (L.A. averaged 102.4 PPG and shot .468 from the field in the 2008 Playoffs).
Thibodeau began his NBA career as an assistant coach under Bill Musselman with the Timberwolves from 1989-91, while also serving as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs (1992-94), Philadelphia 76ers (1994-96), New York Knicks (1996-2003) and Houston Rockets (2003-07). He also spent the 1991-92 season as an advance scout for the Seattle SuperSonics. Before joining the NBA’s coaching ranks, Thibodeau coached at Salem State University (1981-85) and Harvard University (1985-89).
Thibodeau, 63, was born in New Britain, Conn., on Jan. 17, 1958. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Counseling from Salem State University (Salem, Mass.), where he was a four-year letter winner in basketball. Thibodeau was team captain his senior season, and a member of back-to-back MASCAC Conference Champion squads in 1980 and 1981 (the first two basketball teams in school history to qualify for the Division III NCAA Tournament). He was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.