Chicago Bulls: Scalabrine and Pitino compare Tom Thibodeau to Bill Belichick

Two notable people in the game of basketball recently gave their thoughts on how former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau compares to Belichick.

Back in the early 2010’s the Chicago Bulls were accustomed to staying in the thick of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference year-after-year. The likes of then superstar point guard Derrick Rose, defensive stopper big man Joakim Noah, and versatile wing/forward Luol Deng led the Bulls to pretty great heights in the East.

But once the Bulls started the rebuild in the mid-to-late 2010’s (essentially during the 2017 offseason), all of that success fans in the Windy City were accustomed to went away in the blink of an eye. The Bulls really struggled throughout the last three seasons, which led to the reshaping of the front office personnel that occurred at the outset of this offseason.

Thinking back to that consistent Bulls success in the standings in the East at the beginning of the last decade, a lot of it was driven under the direction of former head coach Tom Thibodeau. Since departing from the Windy City, Thibodeau held the head coaching job for three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Thibs guided the Timberwolves to a record of 97-107 in his three years at the helm in the Twin Cities. And he held a record of 255-139 in five seasons as the Bulls head coach. Not too shabby, but playoff success did usually elude Thibs.

A big reason why the Bulls parted ways with Thibs following the 2014-15 season was the fact that he couldn’t get them over the hump in the East ever. The further the Bulls got was the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010-11 season. Granted constant lower-body injuries that took seasons away from D-Rose did cost the Bulls on a consistent basis, and was none the fault of Thibs in that regard.

However, a recent piece that detailed the thoughts of Thibs in the general spotlight, and more specifically from former Bulls forward Brian Scalabrine, in the New York Daily News had some interesting comparisons. In this piece from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News on July 18, the legendary Scal along with the likes of former Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino gave pretty glowing reviews of Thibs.

Here’s more on what Pitino had to say about Thibs and his coaching style and ability.

“He was meticulously organized, almost scary organized, and he reminded me of Bill Belichick,” Pitino told the Daily News. “I’ve spent a lot of time with Belichick and Thibodeau’s got a lot of the same mannerisms, the same attention to detail that Belichick has. And that’s about the highest compliment I could give someone.”

That is a pretty good review of what Thibs brings to the table as a basketball coach, with Pitino comparing him to the New England Patriots legendary head coach Bill Belichick in terms of his organization and preparedness.

And another noteworthy piece from this article on the NY Daily News was the take that Scal had in practice on Thibs’ defensive system when he was an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics back in the late 2000’s. Here’s more on what that part of the piece had to say from Scal’s perspective.

“Thibodeau would always act like he’s listening and be like, ‘You guys are more than welcome to come in my office and watch the eight hours of films that I watched. And I promise you this will work if you do it hard and you do it right,’” Scalabrine told the News.
Rivers interjected to back up Thibodeau. Then the 2007-08 Celtics became one of the best defensive teams in NBA history.
“Fifteen games in, there was no more questioning of Tom Thibodeau,” Scalabrine said.

That part of the article stops shy of comparing Thibs to the Patriots legendary head coach Belichick, but still shows the level to which he stays prepared especially with his defensive schemes.

Moreover, the entire theme of this article is talking about what Thibs could bring to the table as a New York Knicks head coaching candidate. At this point in time, the Knicks might have the most high-profile head coaching job available and Thibs name is pretty constantly mentioned in the running to land the position.

Prior to the novel coronavirus-induced season hiatus, the Bulls finished up the 2019-20 campaign with a record of 22-43. They aren’t in a better spot at all under current head coach Jim Boylen than they were prior to the departure of Thibs in the mid-2010’s. Meanwhile, the Knicks weren’t in a great position either in the season that was as they finished up with a record of 21-45.