MIAMI -- Tom Thibodeau finished eighth in the NBA Coach of the Year balloting revealed on Wednesday.
That's the question many Chicago Bulls fans have to be asking as they check out the results for the annual award won by the Nuggets' George Karl. Thibodeau actually won the honor during his first season with the Bulls in 2010-11 and finished second behind the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich last season, but an argument could certainly be made that this was Thibodeau's best coaching performance to date.
He led his team to 45 wins and has gotten them to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Miami Heat. The fact that he has done this without Derrick Rose all season and with a litany of injuries to key players up and down the roster only makes the case for Thibodeau even stronger.
It's a case that could be made every year. Thibodeau has proven that he is one of the elite coaches in the league and continues to find ways to squeeze the most out of any roster placed in front of him. He is the major reason the Bulls have developed such an overwhelming amount of respect around the league. People trust that a Thibodeau-coached team will always be prepared and will always play hard.
Thibodeau said he is happy for Karl.
"It's great," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's shootaround. "He's been great at it for a long time. I know George a little bit. I'm very happy for him. I thought he had a remarkable season. And he does it year after year and he does it a lot of different ways, too, so I'm very happy for him."
Thibodeau said he didn't care about finishing eighth but the results might just add to his motivation.
Here's how I would have voted: (1) Heat's Erik Spoelstra (2) Karl (3) Thibodeau
Any coach who has the ability to lead his team to a 27-game winning streak deserves recognition. I don't care how much talent is on the roster, the fact that Spoelstra was repeatedly able to get his players to lock in and focus night after night is impressive. Karl had a great season in Denver, and as I mentioned, I thought Thibodeau maximized the potential on his roster -- he just didn't have as much success as the other two.