March 23, 2011
There's a cliche that NBA coaches eat, drink and sleep basketball. For the most part, people mean that figuratively rather than literally. You know, not only because it's a bad idea to eat and drink leather, but because most coaches have families and at least some interests other than basketball, even if they're pretty dull ones like golf and scrapbooking.
Then there's Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a basketball obsessive who's probably in the lab figuring out a way to sleep basketball as we speak. Unlike other coaches, who may take a bit of time off from studying film and devising game plans to watch a movie or help their children with their homework, Thibs appears to do nothing of the sort. Take it from Derrick Rose, as reported by K.C. Johnson for the Chicago Tribune (via TBJ):
"I've never played for a coach who was that focused," Rose said of Tom Thibodeau, admiringly. "There's nothing else -- no kids, no wife, no leisure time to watch TV. I'm dead serious. There's nothing else going on.
"I've never heard about Thibs being out eating. I never ran into him eating anywhere. No matter what city we're in, I won't see him until the next day. I never been around a coach like him." [...]
Asked if he's worried about his coach's long hours, Rose smiled. "Nah, he's healthy," Rose said. "We're winning. He seems like he's enjoying himself. So I'm fine with it."
In Thibodeau's defense, Rose's previous coaches were John Calipari, who probably spends most off-hours at a dog track, and Vinny Del Negro, who reportedly just wanders around whatever city he's in looking for cotton candy. So maybe Thibodeau isn't even that crazy, but just appears to be an obsessive to the youthful Rose.
Nevertheless, it's tempting to chide Thibodeau for being too focused on basketball and not stopping to smell the flowers, and sausages, and all the other wonderful scents of Chicago. But this appears to be all he needs for a happy life, so who are we to judge? Some people need a family, and some just want to think for hours about stagger screens and proper hedging technique.