Last weekend the Knicks concluded their months-long head coaching search by hiring the well-known Tom Thibodeau.
The 2011 NBA Coach of the Year, who served as a Knicks assistant coach from 1996 to 2004, returns to New York City as someone who led the way for two other teams — Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves — produced a winning 352-246 record and made the playoffs six times. Thibs also has a championship ring as the associate head coach of the 2008 Boston Celtics.
But what have others said about the Knicks’ new leading man? Well, take a look at a handful of reactions down below.
1. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gives Thibs praise.
Gregg Popovich knows how to get his point across. While speaking with Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Pop heaped praise upon Thibodeau. “Tommy’s a seasoned veteran who it goes without saying understands what wins and what loses. He knows how to put a program together, create a culture and be demanding, and at the same time, make people accountable.”
2. Knicks forward Moe Harkless to The New York Post: “Knicks got a great hire in Tom Thibodeau.”
As Harkless told New York Post Writer Marc Berman, he first met Thibodeau while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers a few months ago, when Thibs visited their practices as a friend of Doc Rivers. And what is his impression? “Thibs is a great coach and I have a lot of respect for him.” Harkless also said he would be willing to come back to the Knick next season to play for Thibs.
3. Joakim Noah believes the Knicks are in good hands.
While speaking with Writer Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, Noah, who became an All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year under Thibodeau’s guidance, says the Knicks are in good hands with Thibodeau. “Thibs is a hard-nosed coach that brings it 24/7. As a player, all you want is to be held accountable. Thibs will do that. I’m sure his house is in order and he will be ready for the task. I wish him nothing but the best.”
4. Former NBA player David West slams the Knicks for hiring Thibs.
During his conversation with The Athletic, West told a story about why the Knicks made a bad hire with Tom Thibodeau. According to the two-time NBA Champion, this goes back to a pair of preseason games in 2017. As a member of the Golden State Warriors, West faced the Minnesota Timberwolves who were coached by Thibodeau, and the T-Wolves “weren’t responding.”
The 15-year NBA veteran would go on to say “‘Man, this is preseason. We ain’t even got to the league yet, and these guys aren’t responding” before explaining how the Knicks should have hired a younger coach who could relate to the player better.
5. ESPN’s broadcasting duo of Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson praise Thibodeau.
As they recently spoke to the media on a conference call held by ESPN to promote the NBA’s restart, Jackson and Van Gundy had good things to say about the Knicks’ new coach. Jackson, who once played for the Knicks, said Thibs “is a great hire and great basketball mind, who has done it before.” But Van Gundy’s praise came with a dash of good old JVG rage.
Van Gundy and Thibs have a history as they coached together in New York in the late 1990s, and Van Gundy first defended his friends by saying the narrative about Thibs overplaying his players is “great slander.” Once he finished expressing that point, which included an in-depth reference to long-time former NFL coach Bill Parcells, JVG explained why Thibs is the right man for the Knicks:
“He took over the worst team in basketball in Minnesota. I think you want a coach that’s both patient and impatient. He’s not afraid of the challenge. You have to be patient. But if you’re too patient you don’t drive change where the culture has to change.”