Knicks' Tom Thibodeau Wins 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year Award

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2021

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts after being assessed a technical foul during the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden in New York on Wednesday, April, 28, 2021. (Vincent Carchietta/Pool Photo via AP)
Vincent Carchietta/Associated Press

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau won the Red Auerbach Trophy on Monday as the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Thibs wins the 2020-21 Coach Of The Year Award He took the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years πŸ—½ https://t.co/3Haxquhq6P

It was one of the most competitive Coach of the Year races in recent memory with so many teams posting records well above .500 and others exceeding expectations to compete for playoff berths.

NBA Communications @NBAPR

This is the second NBA Coach of the Year Award for Thibodeau, who earned the honor in the 2010-11 season with the Chicago. Thibodeau received 43 first-place votes and earned 351 total points to edge Phoenix head coach Monty Williams. More ➑️ https://t.co/WMkHE1romK https://t.co/Iidnu4EU1e

The Knicks hired Thibodeau in July with the goal of ending their seven-year playoff drought, a streak that had spanned six head coaches. He delivered immediate results, as the team posted a 41-31 record to earn the Eastern Conference's No. 4 postseason seed.

New York's success started with a vast improvement on defense. It tied for third in defensive efficiency after finishing 23rd in that category last year, per ESPN. That end of the floor has always been the 63-year-old's calling card.

"That's what we need. We need to be coached," All-Star forward Julius Randle said in May. "We need to be held accountable. So if we're not doing our job, he's going to tell us about it. That's how should it be."

Thibodeau, who previously led the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls, was also named Coach of the Year with the Bulls in 2010-11. He's the third Knicks winner, joining Red Holzman (1969-70) and Pat Riley (1992-93).

The NBA Coach of the Year Award has been handed out since the 1962-63 season.

Riley, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich are tied atop the all-time list, having won the honor three times apiece.