For the second time in his career and a decade apart, Tom Thibodeau was named the NBA Coach of the Year.
The New York Knicks coach, who led the team to a 20-win improvement this season, beat his Phoenix Suns colleague Monty Williams by 11 points, while Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder finished third. place. It was the second time Thibodeau won the award in his first year with a new team, after winning the award with the Chicago Bulls in 2011.
“When you win an award like this, you feel honored, but it is more a reflection of our group and organization,” Thibodeau said on “Inside The NBA” when accepting the award.
A couple of players he had with the Bulls, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, were the mentors in the 2021 Knicks squad, which went from being one of the quintets expected to fight for one of the first places in the NBA Draft Lottery to gain home advantage in the first round of the Playoffs with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
“The important thing about Derrick and the people around him, and the same can be said for Taj, is that they are guys who think of the team first,” Thibodeau said. “When Derrick was the league MVP at age 22, he was a great teammate, with great humility and has played in many great games, but he has also overcome a lot of adversity, so I thought it would be great to have a veteran who has passed for many things to help set the tone with veteran leadership for the group. “
Although they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, it was a successful season for the Knicks, who saw Julius Randle, named Most Improved Player in May, become an All-Star, and RJ Barrett take an important step in his second. season and Immanuel Quickley contributed immediately as a rookie to help the Knicks have their defense in the top five all season.
Julius was special. He set the tone from day one, but RJ Barrett made a huge leap this year and we have two young men who brought great energy on a daily basis and improved every day at Immanuel and Obi Toppin.
“The whole team, from top to bottom, was very special, a united group that worked hard and gave everything they had on a daily basis,” he added.
Williams had more first-place votes (45) than Thibodeau and was mentioned on 96 ballots, one more than the Knicks coach, who won the score by having more second-place votes.
Williams helped the Suns achieve the second-best record in the NBA after Phoenix had not made the playoffs since 2010, while the combination of the acquisition of Chris Paul and the improvement of the team’s young players, led by Devin Booker , Deandre Dayton and Mikal Bridges, helped turn the team around.
The Suns hope to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since Charles Barkley was on the team in 1993.
Like last year, the NBA returned to its traditional awards ceremony during the Playoffs instead of having a lengthy ceremony at the end of the Postseason, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.