Skip to content

Jeff Van Gundy: What's so wrong about a serious head coach?

May 6, 2010, 1:23 PM EDT

“We need a guy who can relate to today’s player.”

You here variants of that sentence in so many coaching searches, teams looking for a guy who can relate to, joke around with and get through to players that way.

Jeff Van Gundy wants to know why? In talking about why Boston assistant coach Tom Thibodeau should be considered for the New Jersey Nets (or other) coaching jobs, Van Gundy told the Star-Ledger that Thibodeau’s reputation as serious should not get in the way. (Via FanHouse)

“How you relate to players is what matters. You do it by giving a good plan, putting them in the position to succeed, maximizing their potential, building trust, and eventually faith brings results. Pat Riley wasn’t a yuckster, believe me. I don’t think Phil Jackson brings a lot of levity. But being serious-minded suddenly has this negative connotation.”

Van Gundy would not comment on his own status as a potential head coach somewhere next season. He just kept plugging his former assistant Thibodeau.

Tom now has this thing where he’s known as a defensive guy, which he’s great at — not good, great. But he also is very good offensively. And it’s the reason why I hired him initially in New York — his work with individual players. He had incredibly good offensively ideas. His work with Yao Ming still gets overlooked because Yao is hurt a lot. But in Yao’s last full year, he was an MVP candidate, 25 and 11.

Thibodeau runs into the problem that the Celtics last deep into the playoffs each year, and some teams have already made their decisions by the time he can interview. This time around, the management of the Bulls and Nets are taking their time with their searches. So are the Clippers, they may take a very long time.

It means Thibodeau should get an interview, and he should get his shot. Then we’ll see if serious can work.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3710)
  2. R. Rondo (3443)
  3. K. Bryant (3307)
  4. D. Wade (2364)
  5. R. Allen (2363)
  1. D. Williams (2252)
  2. K. Leonard (2030)
  3. D. Rose (1965)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1944)
  5. M. Smart (1877)