Former Salem State captain and coach named NBA coach of the year

Thibodeau

Tom Thibodeau, who was captain of the 1980-81 Salem State University basketball team and its head coach for the 1984-85 season, has been named the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year.

The announcement comes “as no surprise” according to The Chicago Tribune after Thibodeau guided the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs in his first year as head coach. The Bulls are playing in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Atlanta.

Thibodeau received 475 points and 76 first-place votes from a media panel. Philadelphia’s Doug Collins got 18 first-place votes and 210 points, and Gregg Popovich of San Antonio finished third.

An NBA assistant for about two decades, Thibodeau got his first head coaching chance with the Bulls this year after earning a solid reputation as an industrious assistant coach and a defensive specialist with the Boston Celtics. According to the university’s alumni magazine Salem Statement, Paul Pierce, the Celtics all-star forward, called Thibodeau “one of the hardest-working assistant coaches that I've ever been around.”

The Salem Statement story offering insight into Thibodeau’s Salem State days can be viewed here.