Thibodeau led the team to a 41-31 record — good enough for fourth overall in the East — and its first playoffs appearance since the 2012-13 season. That result was made possible with the help of two former Bulls players, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson. Both players were also members of the Bulls when Thibodeau was head coach in Chicago from 2010 to 2015.
In Coach of the Year voting, Thibodeau earned 351 total points in addition to receiving 43 first-place votes. Although the Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams received more votes for first place, Williams had 340 points overall.
Thibodeau spent 20 years as an assistant coach in the NBA before finally being hired as an NBA head coach. But this year’s honor isn’t the first time Thibodeau has been the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy. He was named NBA Coach of the Year a decade ago — during his first season as head coach of the Bulls.
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2010-11 Bulls Were ‘Special’
During a virtual press conference, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago asked Thibodeau to recall the first season he was named NBA Coach of the Year.
“That group was special,” Thibodeau said of the 2010-11 Bulls. “Obviously having Derrick as a MVP at 22 years old and then to have him here along with Taj makes it even more special. Derrick was always a team-first guy, had great humility. And I thought he brought some of those leadership qualities to our team. He and Taj were terrific.”
Thibodeau led the 2010-11 Bulls to a 62-20 record — the league’s best that year. It was also the same season that Rose was named the league’s youngest-ever MVP.
The team was made up of mostly new faces with only five returning players from the season prior. They missed out on signing the best free agents that 2010 offseason, and their biggest addition to the team was the signing of forward Carlos Boozer.
While the 2010-11 Bulls were led by Thibodeau as coach and Rose as the star player, their success was very much so a team effort.
Earlier this year, Deng appeared on the Bulls Talk podcast and spoke of his time with the Bulls when Thibodeau was coach: “If you look at our Chicago Bulls team, from the MVP to the last player, everybody played hard.
“There was no slack, there was no taking off and I think with Thibs that’s where he thrives.”
What’s Left of the 2010-11 Bulls?
Aside from Rose, that team’s starting lineup featured Keith Bogans, Deng, Boozer and Joakim Noah. The Bulls’ beloved Bench Mob featured Gibson, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Ömer Aşık, Kurt Thomas, Brian Scalabrine and John Lucas III. James Johnson spent some time with the Bulls’ then D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, that year before being traded to the Toronto Raptors halfway through the season.
Rasual Butler also joined Chicago in March 2011 after being waived by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ten years after that historic season, Rose and Gibson are still in the league, having played a role in helping Thibodeau be named Coach of the Year for a second time. But many of the players from that squad are now retired.
Bogans was actually an assistant coach for the Knicks last year. Deng is currently the president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation. Noah retired this past season and plans to do so as a Chicago Bull.
Johnson just finished up his 12th season, mostly recently playing with the New Orleans Pelicans. Watson is listed on the Big3’s Killer 3s roster for this season alongside another former Bull, Eddy Curry. Korver last played in the 2019-20 season for the Milwaukee Bucks but, according to Basketball News, has not yet made a decision regarding retirement.
Brewer has transitioned into coaching, acting as head coach of the Woodz Elite 16U AAU program. Similarly, Lucas III does player development for JL3 Basketball. Meanwhile, Scalabrine can be found on television as an analyst for NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics games.
Following stints with the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans, Asik returned to the Bulls via trade in February 2018 but was waived in October, having been dealing with inflammatory arthritis.