The Knicks rebuild of Tom Thibodo begins now: ‘A dream comes true’


New Knicks coach Tom Thibodo 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, Thibodo referred to his new status as his “dream job”.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Thibodo said. “it’s my dream. … maybe a part of it, I grew up in Connecticut. My father, my family, we grew up as fans of Nax. I’ve been there before, I have a good understanding of New York. I think we have the best city in the world, the best area and the best fans. I was there in the 90s and it was an incredible experience. ”

For the first time in nearly eight months, the Knicks officially have a permanent coach. He announced it on the first day of the NBA’s 22-team restart, as the Knicks tried to resume their dead franchise, which has been missing the playoffs for seven straight years.

Larry Brown once called the Knicks his “dream job” and left one after another, a 17–65 disaster. Thibodo is a former assistant coach of the glorious days of the 1990s who became a marquee coach with the Bulls and even broke Minnesota’s 13-year playoff drought in 2018.

But now Thibodo may have to do a big job with James Dolan’s Moribund Knicks. Asked how he could make a perennial mess, Thibodo refrained from mentioning the championship, which the team had not won in 47 years.

“You don’t make major jumps without going through each step,” he said. “So I think the first step is to establish a work ethic and how we want to play. There’s a lot of work to do. When you’re studying a team, one of the most important things is to look at efficiency, And when you see your [net rating] Minus is -6.54, you think is a lot of work. And hopefully we players can play for each other and start building those habits.

“Of course the ultimate goal is to bring a championship back to the city, where it is synonymous with victory and championship, and in New York.”

Knicks president Leon Rose will be on the hook if Thibodo’s old-school methods don’t work. Rose, his former agent at the Creative Artists Agency, said there was a “comfort level” in hiring Thibodo because of their long-term relationship.

“He is the right candidate for this job who is going to demand accountability, he is going to develop and they are going to create a winning culture,” Rose said to 62-year-old Thibodo.

“We have hired not only a great basketball coach but a distinguished coach,” Rose said. “His principles and goals weave everything, which basketball represents.”

Tom Thibodo
Tom Thibodo

On Saturday, Thibodo agreed to terms on a five-year deal. Some league insiders estimate that the deal could be worth at least $ 25 million – even with an epidemic discount, which would likely be his Knicks’ first role without fans in attendance.

Thibodo thanked Dolan in his prepared remarks and listed 15 coaches from whom he had taken tidbits – from Jeff Van Gaddie to Bill Musselman. And Thibodo called the former Nax coaches whom he “assembled with the best staff”. Many head coaches like Brendan Malone, Don Chaney, Jeff Nix, Steve Clifford, Andy Greer, Mike Malone who are in the league today. ‘

Thibodo received Timberview for the playoffs, but he was not fired in January 2019 due to allegations of involvement with Minnesota’s young players.

Thibodo refuses to go into detail about Minnesota.

“It was a team of total rebuilding, which had not won much in a long time,” he said. “So I think you take from each experience, but each experience is different.”

The source indicated that Thibodo faced intrigue with a possible opening in Houston, but said he was attracted to the Knicks due to the flexibility of the cap and the funding of seven first-rounders in the next four drafts.

“The three main reasons why this work was so appealing to me was the current roster that we now have young and talented and have room for growth,” Thibodo said. “It’s exciting to me. Secondly, Leon and Wes have to work [William Wesley], Two people I have known for a very long time. And third are all draft picks that have been acquired and also cap space. We have many different ways to improve the team. ”

Thibodo tried to take away his reputation as a basketball-obsessed, humorous drill sergeant who has no other life. He joked at this long-time Knicks writer, saying, “I can’t believe you’re still ‘around’ and denying that he visited other teams’ practices during unemployment – which he very much did.

“I went on vacation a couple of times,” Thibodo said. “I know people don’t think I do that. But I got away and kept on a beach in Miami for a few weeks.”

The Knicks interviewed 11 candidates in seven weeks, but Thibodo was ranked at the forefront.

“We did our due diligence in this search,” Rose said. “We were open-minded and heard from many diverse candidates with different philosophies. The depth of the search is what we felt the fans deserved. We wanted to get it right. “

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