Given the way the Chicago Bulls stampeded through the regular season, it didn't take much work to a make a convincing case for Tom Thibodeau as the NBA's Coach of the Year. Thibodeau won it last season in guiding Chicago to an NBA-best 62-win campaign, and his work in the face of a roster depleted by injuries this year may have been even more impressive.
Reigning MVP Derrick Rose missed 27 games, starting two-guard Richard Hamilton missed 39, All-Star small forward Luol Deng missed 12. Still, the Bulls won 50 games, tied for the best mark in the NBA, and will have homecourt advantage throughout the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
It still wasn't enough to bring Thibodeau back-to-back Coach of the Year honors. Today, it was announced San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won the award, securing 77 first-place votes from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters. After the jump, our own Bobby Loesch makes Pop's case and tells Bulls fans why they shouldn't feel slighted.
As a huge Bulls/Thibs fan, I'm almost delighted to see Pop win this Coach of the Year award. While I think Thibs has been about an A+ since coming to Chicago, there seemed to be this overwhelming school of thought -- particularly over the last two weeks -- that he was the only choice to take this award. It was pretty dismissive of Pop's year, I thought.
After battling back from an epic upset in last year's playoffs, Pop had to deal with an aging core, the condensed schedule, and new additions to his roster. And, like Thibs, the injury bug (Manu). After managing minutes brilliantly and seamlessly integrating castoffs like Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson, he led the Spurs to a 50-16 record -- identical to Chicago's finish. And he did it in a much tougher conference.
Ultimately, both coaches had probably a 50/50 claim to the award. Hell, maybe Thibs did deserve it a little more. But Pop coming out on top of this one certainly isn't a crime. So shut up, Bulls fans.
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