I was under the misguided impression that LeBron James wanted to be coached and that, at some point, this deep-seated need would lead him to Tom Thibodeau. Silly me.
The Cavaliers fired David Blatt last week and gave assistant coach Tyronn Lue a three-year contract to take over the top spot. James said he had nothing – nothing! – to do with Blatt’s dismissal, but any human blessed with brain cells and eyesight knows that can’t be true. Ownership would have had to be insane not to consult the best player in the world about a coaching change. LeBron itches an ear, and the front office spends days trying to interpret it.
Now, Lue might end being the greatest coach in the history of the game, but right now, there’s no way he’s Thibodeau, who helped create an NBA Most Valuable Player (Derrick Rose), a Defensive Player of the Year (Joakim Noah) and a Most Improved Player (Jimmy Butler) in five seasons in Chicago.
ESPN reported that LeBron had made it no secret that he wanted to be coached by a former NBA player. Well, sure, who’d want to be coached by Thibodeau, who played Division III ball, or Gregg Popovich, who only made it as far as the Air Force Academy?
Thibs isn’t for everyone, especially for a Bulls front office that fired him after last season, but his teams played hard all the time and they won most of the time. Whether he and James could have coexisted long term is a legitimate question. But if LeBron wanted to be coached, he couldn’t have done better than Thibodeau.
The ascension of Lue tells me that King James wants to continue to run the Cavaliers from the comfort of his throne.