These days, Tom Thibodeau is best known for leading the Chicago Bulls to the NBA’s best regular-season record in the 2011-2012 season. Or for winning Coach of the Year in 2010-2011. But what many may not know is that before the fame and glory of the NBA, Thibodeau once coached at a New England school that definitely was not known for its basketball team: Harvard.
Thibodeau was hired as the Crimson’s assistant coach in 1985. That year, Harvard didn’t quite live up to the Bulls’ 50-16 record. In fact, the Crimson went 6-20 and recorded only two wins in Ivy play. But the team slightly improved in the four seasons that Thibodeau was with them—in his final year with the ball club, Thibodeau and Co. went 11-15 and hit .500 in Ivies with a 7-7 record.
In 1989, Thibodeau was hired as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA’s then-newest expansion team. From there, his journey through a number of professional teams began. In 2007, he returned to Massachusetts as an assistant for the Boston Celtics, where, only the following year, he won the NBA title. And, finally, in 2010, he was given the opportunity to take over as head coach for the Chicago Bulls.
With regard to this year’s Linsanity, Thibodeau gave some Crimson-tinted analysis to the media.
“It's interesting because I coached at Harvard a long time ago,” Thibodeau said. “And a number of players there had told me about him during his career, and of course coaching in Boston I sort of followed him a little bit. It is an amazing story, and he's done an incredible job, so I'm happy for him.”
Thibodeau can relate to Lin on one other point—knee injuries. Though Lin is making progress towards coming back from his torn MCL in the coming weeks, the return of last season’s MVP—Bulls point guard Derrick Rose—will not be quite as soon. Rose fell in the Bulls’ post-season opener on Saturday with a torn ACL.
But, if he was able to survive the 6-20 seasons with Harvard, Thibodeau shouldn’t have much trouble making the best of a Rose-less Chicago squad. After all, with Lin out for the time being, the NBA needs another Harvard basketball alum to shake things up and create some drama. With Linsanity gone, let the Thibodeau puns begin.