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Thibs interviewed about Knicks’ 2023-24 season, identity, and goals

Thibs, by the book.

2023 FIBA World Cup - USA Men’s National Team Practice - Las Vegas Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

On Ahmad Rashad’s YouTube show, New York Legacies, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau submitted to questions about the upcoming season. As usual, Thibs did not waiver on his message of preparation, mental toughness, and starting over every year.

“The advantage is, we have a lot of guys coming back from last year’s team, and you have young players that can improve, but you can’t lose sight of, each year is different,” said Thibs. “Last year has nothing to do with this year.”

For the first time in a long time, the core of Knicks players from the previous season has carried over into the new. Thibs acknowledged that as being a positive, but also warned against resting on laurels. “Particularly with the veterans, the challenge is not to skip over, take any shortcuts. We have to build our foundation both offensively and defensively, and then as a team, we have to start all over.”

Thibs reiterated his belief that success is defined by the team’s outcome, not the individual’s. “We want all our players to have individually great seasons, but the most important thing is that the team is successful. . . . Whatever way in which you can help the team, prioritize that. We feel if we do that, we’ll have a chance for great team success.”

Rashad laughed, observing that when Knick players are interviewed, they all sound like Thibs. That pleased the 65-year-old skipper, who said, “There’s a belief here that they can pull it all together and win as a group.”

Thibs served as an assistant coach in New York from 1996 to 2003, and has been the main man here since 2020. He took Coach of the Year honors twice—once with the Chicago Bulls, and once in New York. His contract with New York expires in 2025, and Stefan Bondy made the case for extending him here.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Thibs spoke to the increase of competition in the Eastern Conference, now that Damian Lillard has joined Milwaukee and Jrue Holiday has joined Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis in Boston. “Every team in the East has gotten stronger,” he admitted.

“Our veterans Julius, Jalen, RJ, Josh Hart—we want a team of leaders, and we want them setting the tone for everybody,” said Thibs. “We have a great group of guys. They are hardworking, they’re unselfish, and we also know that this will be an even greater challenge.”

Rashad observed, “You have brought so much positive stuff to the New York Knicks that they haven’t had in a long time.”

Thibs dismissed the compliment in his typical way. “We’re fortunate because our fans have a great understanding of the game, they appreciate great basketball plays, they also appreciate effort, togetherness, playing smart, and when you do that, there’s no better place to play. “

Pressing the issue, Rashad remarked on how, after four seasons in New York, Thibs has built the team in his image. “I see your personality all over this team,” said Rashad. “I’ve known you for a long time . . . competing is one of the things that you teach. It looks like the guys are kind of picking that up now.”

Once again, Thibs deflected the credit. “Leon and his staff have done a great job of identifying those players,” he said. “You have to have a toughness about you, you have to have a competitiveness about you, you have to have the ability to think on your feet here. So those are the qualities we’re looking for in players. . . . Looking for all those intangibles and how it fits into the team.”

Full interview is below.