The following in an excerpt from an article on NBCSports.com written by Dan Feldman:
Tom Thibodeau rides his players hard. He plays his starters a ton of minutes, asks everyone to defend physically and doesn’t tolerate loafing.
In many ways, Thibodeau seems more like a college-style coach than an NBA coach.
Of course, Thibodeau is an NBA coach with NBA players, some of whom have more power in the Bulls organization than Thibodeau. It’s an organizational structure full of landmines, especially with a potentially grating coach like Thibodeau.
How does he make it work?
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, who worked with Thibodeau on Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks staff, sheds some light. Clifford, via Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:
“The big thing he taught me was about being what he called an effective assistant. A lot of guys can play coach. But he spent a lot of time talking to me about learning the NBA animal and trying to learn how to deal with players in a way that they will actually listen to what you’re saying so you can actually coach them instead of passing them the ball and giving them tips on their shot,” Clifford said. “One of the biggest things he always told me was don’t get into a conversation with an NBA player about a performance of their individual game unless you’ve rehearsed what you want to get accomplished in the conversation. And it’s really true, particularly with older guys who are proven and have played for a lot of different coaches. You have to be careful, for instance, the first time you work out a player. Look at our guys, the guys they’ve played for. A guy like [Bobcats veteran forward] Anthony Tolliver has played for five or six really good NBA coaches, plus a really good college coach. So if you think you’re going to walk on the floor and start throwing out things to them if you haven’t studied their game and have a clear plan of what you want to get accomplished in your time with them, then you’re not going to be effective.”