Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry Zen Master...Thibs is For Real!

Sometimes one of the Pippen Peoples will ask me a question on a subject and request an article stating my opinion. This past week, I got a request on who’s the better coach. Is it Tom Thibodeau, who has done one of the better jobs of anyone based on the resources given to him this year? Jeff Van Gundy mentioned during the Miami Heat game that he probably is doing the best job of his career right now. Or is it the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson who coached the Bulls to two three-peat championship runs. On the surface, you might say, really? There is no comparison. But is there? Pippen Aint Easy takes a look at these coaches up close and personal.

Phil Jackson

He is considered the greatest coach of all-time to some while being overrated to others. The detractors of Jackson’s accomplishments always have the same argument. He always had a ready-made winning squad with some of the greatest players of all time. Players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal are always going to be linked to the Jackson “Zen Master” legacy. To those people I say stop it! For real! Doug Collins had Jordan and Pippen in Chicago and never could get these two past the Detroit Pistons. Del Harris had Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in Los Angeles and always seemed to get swept unceremoniously from the playoffs. Phil Jackson got these two franchises over the top. Does this make Jackson a better coach?

Tom Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau was considered a great coach even before he came to Chicago. How many assistant coaches do you know is given credit for helping a franchise win a world title? Well that’s exactly what happened when the Boston Celtics won the title back in 2008. The vaunted defense of the Celtics at that time was put together and perfected by Tom Thibodeau. He was rumored for many NBA jobs before he finally took the Bulls job back in 2010. He took over for Vinny Del Negro who led the Bulls to the playoffs prior before being fired. Coupled with a lightning in a bottle number one selection Derrick Rose, the Bulls became instant title contenders. Since then, Derrick Rose has been out the better part of two years with injuries to both knees. The Bulls have not missed the playoffs. Last year, Thibodeau got some mileage out of Nate Robinson, who’s agent would have washed the car of any General Manager who gave him a contract. With the help of Nate the Bulls pulled a major upset of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs without Luol Deng who had a bad reaction to a spinal tap. This year Thibodeau has pulled DJ Augustin off the scrap heap and is basically working his magic again. Now he has new challenges with the trade of Luol Deng and being short-handed. Does this make Thibodeau a better coach?

The similarities

Both coaches and management have not seen eye to eye. Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause’s feud over the years turned out to be as entertaining as the Bulls dynasty. Jerry Krause wanted the same respect for the dynasties as Jordan, Pippen and Jackson. In turn all of them hated Krause, especially Jordan. With that underlying resentment towards management, Phil Jackson used an us-versus-them mentality that worked to perfection. In present times, Bulls management traded away Luol Deng, Tom Thibodeau’s most trusted player and someone who Joakim Noah considered a “brother”. In an obvious move that was financial these two men have banded together in a “no excuses” mentality that has resonated over the entire team. They are using an us-vs.-them mentality that has them on track for another playoff run. Who is the best coach?

My opinion

My vote is Phil Jackson, but not for the rings. He somehow convinced Michael Jordan to buy into the triangle offense which meant he had to pass the ball to players he didn’t trust to turn the light off in the practice facilities. He knew what buttons to push to get the best out of his players. He gave the players room to grow as individuals and basketball players. Anyone that could reel post Detroit Pistons player Dennis Rodman in can coach anybody. If you think it’s easy call John Lucas, Rodman’s coach in San Antonio. If you need more proof, how about getting Kobe and Shaq to co-exist enough for a three-peat. Shaquille O’Neal shows a lot of class sidestepping the feud back then, but he’s not fooling anybody. There were many reports on how bad it was. Even the collapse in 2003-o4 Finals is a testament to his coaching. With all that chaos with the Kobe rape trial, Karl Malone’s knee injury, Gary Payton whining over the triangle offense, it was amazing they even made it to the Finals.

There you have it Zen Master by a nose. What’s your opinion get on Facebook Pippen Aint Easy and tell us what you think.


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