Tom Thibodeau is finally getting a breather from his intense basketball coaching persona to enjoy life a little bit.
Thibodeau, who has been working in the NBA since 1991, told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner that he is treating his year off from coaching as a sort of sabbatical to get healthy, travel, and learn from other coaches about his craft:
[Thibs] hit Charlotte over the weekend, spending a few days with his friend Steve Clifford as the Hornets coach readied his team for its imminent trip to China. Thibodeau was in San Antonio Tuesday as Gregg Popovich and the Spurs got underway. When the Los Angeles Clippers get back from their own trip to China, Thibodeau will hook up with pal Doc Rivers for a stretch in L.A.
Thibodeau is still getting $9 million from the Bulls over the next two years, so he has some time to chill and enjoy Chicago, where he's upgraded from living in a hotel room to an actual condo:
Most days, the non-coaching coach puts himself through two-a-days. The mornings are for walks along Lake Michigan, often from Oak Street Beach on the north to the Bears' Soldier Field to the south and back. Later in the afternoon, he's likely to be at the East Bank Club, the city's go-to exclusive health club for executives and celebrities. All that work he used to grind his guys through, occasionally stealing a few minutes to lift or hop on a treadmill, Thibodeau pushes himself through.
Chicago's vast selection of restaurants are a nightly diversion, though again, he's eating better and smarter without the postgame and late-flight meals, not to mention the stress, that come with coaching. He rents in a luxury high-rise building not far from the diner and plans to stay for the time being.
It's good to see Thibs finally taking a break from basketball. This is the guy who once told the New York Times that as a young man he broke off his engagement because he thought "there's no room in my life for a woman if I'm going to be a basketball coach."
Meanwhile, John Schuhmann of NBA.com revealed some insight yesterday into the value of Thibodeau's vaunted pick and roll defense in an article he published on the value of icing pick and rolls.
Schuhmann used SportVU's tracking data to break down different strategies teams used on defending the pick and roll, and not surprisingly the Bulls' defense was consistent in how they defended the play and pretty good at limiting points from it.
While other teams used switching or aggressive help defenders on pick and roll, the Bulls would try to funnel the play to one side of the floor and prevent guys from getting to the middle. Schuhmann writes that Thibs' "ICE" strategy was one of the most effective in the league.
The value of "Ice" is more than 2 1/2 points per 100 possessions, the difference between being an elite defense and being an average one.
Not surprisingly, the Bulls were the best team in the league at keeping side pick-and-rolls on the side last season. Those "Ice! Ice! Ice!" calls are hard to ignore, apparently.
Thibs will eventually get another coaching gig, and he'll bring his crazy intensity and ICE defense to another team. Until then, he'll be enjoying his much needed break.