Tom Thibodeau could soon return to the coach's bench in the NBA.
According to multiple reports, the former Bulls coach is the front-runner for the Knicks gig, which is currently inhabited by interim coach Mike Miller. Thibodeau, who owns a 352-246 (.589) record between his time with the Bulls and Timberwolves, is fresh off a year-and-a-half hiatus after being hoisted out of Minnesota in January 2019.
And though his Bulls tenure ended unceremoniously, Thibs' five-year spell in Chicago evidently earned him some friends. Chief among them: Nate Robinson, who enjoyed one of the finer seasons of his 11-year career for the team in 2012-13 - the same campaign Derrick Rose missed rehabbing a torn ACL.
Robinson, who also spent the first four-and-a-half years of his career with the Knicks, recently appeared on Brandon "Scoop B" Robinson's Instagram Live and offered a ringing endorsement of Thibodeau for New York's potential opening, predicated on his experiences in 2012-13.
"Honestly man, Coach Thibs is one of the dopest coaches I've ever played for," Robinson told Scoop. "One, he showed me about professionalism, really being a student of the game, studying the playbook, knowing every position. It's like, knowing the enemy more than it knows itself and being prepared. And he's always prepared. He always has a Plan A, B, C, D, E, F and G. So, that's one thing they're gonna get out of Coach Thibs."
For a young and developing team like the Knicks, those qualities in a leader would certainly be valuable. As for Thibs' gruff and abrasive-seeming nature? Robinson appreciated that, too.
"He expects every player to practice, every player to bring their A-game, and he preaches with defense first," Robinson said. "If you want to play offense, you gotta play defense. I love that about him, and he's just a hard-nosed coach.
"He's a good dude, man, he was real hard on (us) - especially hard on me, but hard on a lot of players, especially the ones that he really believed in. It took me a while to understand that. And, I mean, he gave me opportunities, so I got nothing bad to say about the man. He's been awesome."
Robinson, Bulls fans will remember well, responded spectacularly to that hard-nosed leadership and opportunity in Chicago. In that 2012-13 season, he appeared in all 82 of the Bulls' regular-season games (starting 23) and posted his second-highest point (13.1 points) and assist (4.4) per game averages of his career.
Then, he took over the Bulls' starting point guard duties in the 2013 playoffs and torched the Brooklyn Nets to the tune of 17 points per game on 50.5-36.4-81.8 shooting splits across a seven-game first round series (Robinson usurped Kirk Hinrich with the starters after a 34-point outing in Game 4).
The Bulls won that series, but fell in resounding fashion to the Miami Heat in the second round. Still, Robinson and Joakim Noah's heroics against Brooklyn will live in Bulls lore forever. As will Thibodeau spearheading the Bulls' best sustained stretch of play since the dynasty years.
If the Knicks decide to give Thibodeau the keys to their sputtering rebuild, they'll surely hope Robinson's words resonate and ring true.
Ex-Bull Nate Robinson roundly endorses Tom Thibodeau for Knicks head coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago