New Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau grew up in New Britain, Congo, and still owns his old house, 85 miles from the Knicks training ground in Tarrytown.
During his inaugural Zoom press conference on Thursday, Thibodeau described his new position as his “dream job.” He said it four times.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Thibodeau said. “It’s my dream job. … Maybe part of it, I grew up in Connecticut. My father, my family, grew up as Knicks fans. I’ve been there before, I understand New York very well. I think we have the best city in the world, the best arena and the best fans. I was there in the 90’s and it was an amazing 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 restart of the 22 NBA teams, while the Knicks are trying to restart their dead franchise, which has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive years.
Larry Brown once called the Knicks his “dream job”
But now Thibodeau can face a bigger task with the murderous knives of James Dolan. Asked how he could turn a long-running mess, Thibodeau did not deviate from the mention of a championship that the team has not won in 47 years.
“You don’t make big jumps without going through every step,” he said. “That’s why I think the first step is to establish work ethic and how we want to play. There is a lot of work to do. One of the most important things when learning a team is just looking at efficiency and seeing your own [net rating] is minus-6.54, you understand that there is a lot of work. And let’s hope we can get players to play for each other and start building those habits.
“Of course, the ultimate goal is to return the championship to the city, where it’s synonymous with victories and championships, and that’s in New York.”
Knicks President Leon Rose will cope if Thibodeau’s old school ways don’t work. Rose, his former agent at the Creative Arts Agency, said he had a “level of comfort” in hiring Thibodeau because of their long-term relationship.
Rose called 62-year-old Thibodeau “the ideal candidate for the job in terms of the fact that he will require accountability, development and a profitable culture.”
“We hired not only a great basketball coach, but also an elite coach,” Rose said. “His principles and goals embody everything that Knicks basketball represents.”
On Saturday, Thibodeau agreed to terms for a five-year deal. League insiders estimate the deal could cost at least $ 25 million – even with a pandemic discount that is likely to lead to his Knicks debut being played without the presence of fans.
Thibodeau thanked Dolan for his remarks and listed 15 coaches he had been lucky with, from Jeff Van Gundi to Bill Musselman. And Thibodeau called the former Knicks coaches he worked with “the best staff ever.” Guys like Brendan Malone, Don Channy, Jeff Knicks, Steve Clifford, Andy Greer, Mike Malone – many head coaches who are in the league today. ”
Thibodeau led the Timberwolves to the playoffs, but accusations he did not associate with the young Minnesota players led to his dismissal in January 2019.
Thibodeau declined to go into details about Minnesota.
“It was more than a total recovery, a team that didn’t win much for a long time,” he said. “So I think you take from every experience, but every experience is different.”
Sources said Thibodeau was intrigued by the potential opening in Houston, but said he was attracted to the Knicks because of the flexibility of the caps and their wealth of drafts (seven first rounds in the next four projects).
“The three main reasons this job has been so appealing to me are the current list we have now, it’s young and talented and has room to grow,” Thibodeau said. “It’s exciting for me. Second, is to work for Leon and Wes [William Wesley], two people I’ve known for an extremely long time. And in third place are all the collected drafts that have been acquired, as well as the space on the cap. We have many different ways to improve the team. ”
Thibodeau tried to tarnish his reputation as a basketball-obsessed, humorless sergeant with no other life. He joked with this longtime Knicks writer, saying, “I can’t believe you’re still around,” and denied doing anything during unemployment to attending other teams’ practices – which he did a lot.
“I went on vacation a few times,” Thibodeau said. “I know people don’t think I’m doing this. But I passed by and lay on a beach in Miami for a few weeks. ”
Knicks interviewed 11 candidates in seven weeks, but Thibodeau was reported as the lead leader throughout.
“We did our best in that search,” Rose said. “We were open and heard from many different candidates with different philosophies. The depth of the search is what we felt the fans deserved. We wanted to get better. “