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definition - Tom_Thibodeau

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Tom Thibodeau

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Tom Thibodeau is an American basketball coach and current associate assistant to head coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics. He is in his third season as an assistant coach with the Celtics and overall in his 19th year of coaching in the National Basketball Association (NBA). One of the finest defensive coaches in the league, he helped the Houston Rockets rank among the Top 5 in the league in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense from 2004 to 2007,[1] and has helped his team finish in the league's Top 10 in team defense 15 times.[2] He coached in 87 playoff games and was part of the 1999 NBA Finals as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks prior to joining the Celtics, with whom he won the 2008 NBA Championship.



Thibodeau's coaching career began in 1981 as an assistant coach at his alma mater Salem State College. In 1984, he became head coach of the team after three years as an assistant and, only one season later, an assistant coach at Harvard University, where he spent the next four seasons.


After four years at Harvard, he entered the NBA as an assistant coach with an expansion team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, under head coach Bill Musselman in 1989. Prior to the 1991-92 season, he joined the Seattle SuperSonics as an advance scout.

Thibodeau moved to the San Antonio Spurs the following season, where he worked as an assistant coach to Jerry Tarkanian, Rex Hughes and John Lucas for two seasons. After the 1993-94 season, he left the Spurs along with Lucas to become an assistant under Lucas with the Philadelphia 76ers. After the 1995-96 season, he again left simultaneously with Lucas, this time joining the New York Knicks as an assistant to head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

During his tenure with the Knicks, he helped the team set a then-NBA record by holding 33 consecutive opponents under 100 points in the 2000-01 season. As part of the Knicks coaching staff, he also helped Jeff Van Gundy to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2000 NBA All-Star Game. He spent seven years with the Knicks before joining the Houston Rockets prior to the 2003-04 season, where again he was an assistant to head coach Van Gundy.

Boston Celtics

Thibodeau (right) sits on the sidelines with head coach Doc Rivers (center) and assistant coach Armond Hill (left) in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks.

On August 30, 2007, Thibodeau was named assistant coach of the Boston Celtics,[3][4][5] who hoped to bolster their defense with his hiring.[6] Eventually, he helped the Celtics become the best defensive team in the league with his expertise.[7] On November 4, 2007, Thibodeau took over head coaching duties against the Toronto Raptors in place of Doc Rivers, who was unable to coach due to the death of his father earlier that day.[8]

During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Thibodeau had been rumored as a candidate for the vacant head coaching job with the New York Knicks, whom he worked for as an assistant coach for seven years, as well as the Chicago Bulls.[9][10] However, he wasn't hired as the head coach of either franchise.

Thibodeau led the Celtics to the best rating in several defensive categories in 2007–08,[2] and was a key factor in containing Kobe Bryant during the 2008 NBA Finals.[11]


A native of New Britain, Connecticut, Thibodeau graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in counseling from Salem State. In 1998, he was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame.


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