Before becoming the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and winning the Coach of the Year award in 2011, Tom Thibodeau played a far less-heralded role. He was the second in command to a head coach that never seems like he needs much help: Doc Rivers.
Such is the life of an assistant coach.
Assistant coaches are last in line when it comes to media attention. They probably come somewhere after the superstars, head coaches, role players, general managers, announcers, cheerleaders and ball boys.
Well, so much for media attention. These are, after all, the coaches who spend their days digging into the scouting and game-to-game preparation that determine how ready a team is every night. The buck may stop with the head coach, but that's only because he relies so heavily on the staff he's assembled.
The best of the best—like Thibodeau—go on to earn some recognition as head coaches. In fact, Thibodeau's contributions to the Boston Celtics defense were so significant that he even developed a pretty high profile as an assistant.
That's really saying something given the kind of shadow Rivers casts.
Here are five assistant coaches who have similarly made names for themselves in spite of (and because of) working with head coaches who are big names in their own rights.