EDITOR'S NOTE: Tom Thibodeau has worked his way up from coaching Salem State College to being named head coach of the Chicago Bulls this summer. It's been a 25-year basketball journey, including 21 seasons as an assistant coach in the NBA.
Sports staff writer Mike Grenier, who has known Thibodeau since his Salem State days in 1985, talked to the Bulls head coach for a two-part series. Today's story concentrates on Thibodeau's development under various head coaches, his thoughts on LeBron James and his hopes and plans now that he's in charge of the Bulls.
In part two tomorrow, Thibodeau talks about his three years with the Boston Celtics, including the 2008 NBA championship season, the loss to the Lakers in this year's Finals, the rise of Celts point guard Rajon Rondo and Boston's future as a contender.
It's been 26 years since Tom Thibodeau was the basketball coach at Salem State College, but even though he's come a long way since then, he never considered it a lowly, entry level job.
To Thibodeau, coaching a Division 3 college team was pure basketball. As the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Thibodeau is making a lot more money than he could've dreamed of and the stakes are much higher, yet to him it's still pure basketball.
"I could have been perfectly content at Salem State," Thibodeau, 52, said from the Bulls headquarters in Deerfield, Ill. "I could have stayed there forever. It was a wonderful situation.
"The way I look at it, there are great coaches at every level, from high school to small college to Division 1. I've just been very fortunate. I had some great breaks along the way. But whether it's Salem State or this team, I'm still doing what I love to do."