There have been concerns around Bulls nation that Tom Thibodeau will wear out on the players. He pushes them too hard, works them too hard, and the players will get sick of working for such a hard nosed coach. The theory has enough legs to it that management [despite look for these traits when hiring a coach] seems at least somewhat concerned about how long he can last in terms of burn out.
I'm not suggesting Tom Thibodeau doesn't work his guys hard. I'm sure he does. However, is there really any reason to believe he's so completely lacking in interpersonal skills that burn out is that big a factor? All of the evidence actually points the opposite way.
First, all of the players in Boston loved Thibodeau and spoke highly of him. Granted, his role as assistant coach is very different than his role as head coach. You don't see to many assistants having burnout players with players since they aren't controlling the length of practices or the minutes played, but it still showed he built up a great relationship with them.
Next, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver both noted on the way out the door that the chemistry on this Bulls team was special. Kyle Korver said it was the most dedicated team he'd ever been on in terms of working together towards a common goal. These are players who are no longer predisposed to say something nice about Chicago if they didn't feel it. They're gone. The guys on the team have consistently mirrored those thoughts during the past two seasons as well though.
Do you form that complete of a bond if the players and coach aren't on the same page? Thibodeau is the one setting that message, that goal, and getting those guys to work together. If he's successful enough on an interpersonal level to have the best chemistry several long term veterans have ever seen it seems like he's doing something right.
Finally, in the lockout shortened season last year, Thibodeau gave the Bulls the day off on virtually every day off during the season. He went out of his way to not overwork them in practice during the regular season. In his first season he also gave them key days off to rest and recover. Say what you want about how he rides guys in games, he appears to know when to take the foot off the pedal in practice.
In short, despite how wide spread this thought about Thibodeau is, I'm not sure there's all that much to support it. It certainly looks like Thibodeau is actually quite good at building up team chemistry, keeping his team focused on a goal, and working them hard without generating negative energy.
Filed under: Coaching