COMMENTARY | I recently witnessed someone declare that Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is a better coach than the legendary Phil Jackson.
Of course, I promptly challenged this notion. However, the argument presented was very compelling.
The stance was that Thibodeau has done so much with so little. He is winning with this team. Without All-Stars Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the Bulls could realistically make the playoffs in the East as a third seed. The team just continues to play hard, exhibit top-notch defense, and at least has the opportunity to emerge victorious from almost every game.
This is absolutely a reflection of coaching. Thibs is a great coach. He gets the Bulls to fight every single night, and his defensive schemes are unparalleled. But does this put him on the level of Jackson?
The knock on Jackson was what it has always been, that he had the best players in the league on his teams. He had the GOAT on his Bulls teams in Michael Jordan, as well as Scottie Pippen, who is one of the best all-around players in history. Then, Kobe Bryant and/or Shaquille O'Neal led his Los Angeles Lakers squads.
What many seem to forget or overlook, however, is that other coaches had those same players on their rosters before he took the reins. Those coaches still could not win. So, it is not as if Jackson simply latched on to superstars and kicked his feet up. He is one of the best in the business when it comes to coaching schemes and adjustments.
Also, let's not forget that Jackson was known for getting the most out of his players as well. How good were Luke Walton, Randy Brown, and Smush Parker when they were not playing under Jackson? I'll wait.
He found a way to get every member of his roster to play at his maximum potential, and sometimes beyond. This is also a reflection of the system in which they played -- a system in which Jackson was the leader.
Don't get me wrong, what Thibodeau has done throughout his tenure with the Bulls, and especially this season, is nothing short of remarkable. He may be the best coach in the NBA right now, considering what he has had to work with. However, one area that seems to have always been a bit lacking for him is offensive scheming. Of course, you can only work with what you have, but even at full strength the Bulls have struggled mightily to score.
Phil Jackson's Bulls hold the NBA record for regular season wins with 72-10. His teams have won multiple championships. And he has made guys such as Devean George look like All-Stars. This is not a knock on Thibs, he is an excellent coach. But he must do a great deal more before you respectfully place him on Jackson's elite level.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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