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Tom Thibodeau never got married because he was too obsessed with basketball

coach thibs

Tom Thibodeau is one of the top coaches in the NBA today. His obsession with finer details and intricate defensive schemes work wonders for teams he coached in the past. His workhorse-like approach to the game is widely known to the league, but fans don’t know he takes his obsession to another level. 

Tom Thibodeau ditched marriage for basketball

Thibodeau’s former players can attest to his obsession with the game, but a New York Times story written by Greg Bishop alleged that Tom ditched marriage for basketball, a part of which can be read below: 

“Thibodeau was engaged once. He was in graduate school, an assistant at his alma mater, Salem State. Her name was Debbie, one of two Debbies that college teammates said he dated simultaneously, D1 and D2 at first for short.

They canceled the wedding about six weeks out, and Thibodeau’s mother made him return all the gifts couple had received. Reasons for the engagement’s end varied, but John Galaris, Thibodeau’s boss and the athletic director at Salem State, said Thibodeau told him, “There’s no room in my life for a woman if I’m going to be a basketball coach.”

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Thibs having two girlfriends with the same name simultaneously seems like a movie plot, only it happened in real life. Ditching the love of his life to commit to basketball meant Tom gave the phrase “married to the job” a whole new meaning. Sacrificing starting his own family to achieve greater things in basketball may not be for everyone. Still, the New York Knicks coach is living proof that being successful in life can have different meanings for everyone. 

What makes Coach Thibs a great coach

Was the sacrifice worth it? The 63-year-old mentor was named Coach of the Year twice. He also transformed the Minnesota Timberwolves and Knicks in his first year as coach, leading both teams to playoff appearances. Also, who could forget how dominant the Chicago Bulls team was led by Derrick Rose, who became the league’s youngest MVP under Thibs, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Omar Asik?

What makes Tom different is he walks the talk. He preaches defense but also wants others to contribute to how the team moves forward. The result? Everybody is buying in the system.

Fellow basketball coach Rick Pitino likened Thibodeau to another great coach in other sports. 

“Thibodeau was meticulously organized, almost scary organized, and he reminded me of Bill Belichick. I’ve spent a lot of time with Belichick, and Thibodeau’s got a lot of the same mannerisms, the same attention to detail that Belichick has. And that’s about the highest compliment I could give someone.” In basketball, game planning is everything, and the details matter.”

Judging from wins alone and how players went on to become better versions of themselves, it’s clear Tom Thibodeau made the right decision. He still has a chance to win a ring or add other personal accolades to his trophy case, but the respect he earned from fellow coaches and players is more than enough proof of his greatness. 

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