It came down to two coaches, both of whom we expected to be in the running. But it’s Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich that walks away the winner, winning just his second NBA Coach of the Year honor in his illustrious 16 year NBA coaching career.
Both coaches battled through injuries to their stars, both coaches defied that adversity to win 50 games this year.
However, Popovich was the coach that voters clearly favored, both given the milestones and achievements he’s had this year and the ones he’s had his whole career. Plus who knows how long Popovich is going to stick around, he deserves the accolades more then Thibodeau at the moment.
That’s because despite having achieved his own milestones this year, Thibodeau is only in his second year as an NBA head coach. Popovich has been at this for years. But it’s symbolic that the two guys that were neck and neck for the award are Popovich in the Yoda role and Thibodeau as Luke Skywalker.
Gregg Popovich won his 800th career game this year. He’s leading his team of underestimated, unloved and generally looked over players to what could be a third NBA title in San Antonio, one of the NBA’s pioneers in the advancement of the small market.
But Thibodeau is right on track to being where Pop is now in another 14 years. In just his second season Thibodeau became the fastest (and youngest) coach to win 100 games. It took him just 130 games to do it. When asked in February what he thought of Popovich, Thibodeau obviously only had positive things to say about the legendary coach.
“When you look at what he’s done for such a long period of time, to me they are the gold standard of the league,” Thibodeau said before his Bulls beat Popovich’s Spurs this year. “Every year they find a way to be right at the top and they always have a chance.”
The final vote totals show that it was more of a clear cut victory then we were anticipating. Popovich finished with 77 first place votes and Thibodeau came in at second with 27 first place votes.
It’s no surprise both of these coaches were at the top when the season ended, it’s the second straight year the two teams had the best records in the NBA and the top seeds in their conferences.
Hopefully this serves asa passing of the torch as there is no up and coming NBA coach who so closely follows in Gregg Popovich’s than Tom Thibodeau.
Stay tuned to ‘Pippen Ain’t Easy’ all postseason long to get the best, most up to date news and analysis on not only the Chicago Bulls but the entire playoff field from here until the final game of the NBA Finals.