2 Major Reasons Why NBA Players Voted Tom Thibodeau as Least Favorite Coach Revealed

Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks

Getty Head Coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks reacts against the Golden State Warriors.

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is the least favorite coach among the NBA players, according to a poll by The Athletic.

The league-wide survey had Thibodeau garnering 43.6% votes out of the 55 players who were asked: “Which current coach, aside from your own, would you least want to play for?”

One player said, “I love Thibs, but I heard his practices are crazy.”

“Just the grind,” another player said of Thibodeau. “He plays his guys 44 minutes (a game) all year. I’ve heard from guys like if he likes you — if you’re his guy —  he’ll treat you great. He’ll play you a lot, talk to you, so you’ll f— with him in that sense. But if you’re on the outside, it’s like you’re not getting back in.”

The Grind of Playing for Tom Thibodeau

On the minutes front, to Thibodeau’s defense, no Knicks player is sniffing around the 40-minute playing time.

Julius Randle, who leads the Knicks in playing time with 35.5 minutes per game, is only at No. 17 in the league’s minutes leaderboard, while Jalen Brunson is sitting outside the top 20 with 35 minutes per game.

Thibodeau’s reputation as a coach who runs his players to the ground had been exacerbated by Derrick Rose’s unfortunate series of knee injuries that cut short his prime years.

Thibodeau was blamed for Rose’s first ACL injury in Chicago in 2012.

On his first head coaching job in the NBA with the Bulls, Thibodeau left Rose on the floor with their team up by 12 with 1:22 left during their first-round series opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the start of the decline of Rose, the youngest MVP in league history.

That ugly scene nearly played out again on Tuesday night, April 18, when Randle came crashing hard on his back off a Jarrett Allen flagrant foul with 2:22 left in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first round. The Cleveland Cavaliers were leading by 21 points when the incident occurred. Criticisms quickly followed from TNT broadcast analyst Reggie Miller to Charles Barkley and the rest of the “Inside the NBA” crew.

Tom Thibodeau Playing Favorites?

The second player did not only speak about Thibodeau’s reputation as a coach who plays his players with heavy minutes but also alluded to the coach playing favorites.

Thibodeau, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year (2011 and 2021), has always been about winning. Everywhere he goes, his teams overachieve and reach the playoffs because of his strong culture of accountability and attention to detail.

His former players have spoken glowingly about him, with Cavaliers reserve guard Ricky Rubio the most recent.

Perhaps the way Kemba Walker and Cam Reddish’s experiments ended in New York and Obi Toppin’s lack of playing time have added to that perception of Thibodeau’s favoritism.

In March last year, the New York Post reported that Thibodeau took offense to the criticisms that he “mistreated” Walker and stunted Obi Toppin’s growth.

“I’m just saying, everyone has all the answers right after a game and often times, they haven’t studied. And I don’t want anything to divide our team. I want our team together. That’s how you win — as a team. You lose as a team.

“So, when I see stuff being written or people talking about this, that. You hear it all the time, and then when you actually do study it and you watch the game again and maybe you watch it a third time, you actually know what transpired.”

Thibodeau has been vindicated by the fact that Walker is no longer in the NBA, with his chronic knee injury cutting short his last stint with the Dallas Mavericks, and the impact of Josh Hart, the player the Knicks have swapped for the inconsistent Reddish.