Tom Thibodeau has known Rick Pitino for decades and endorses his popular appointment as the new men’s basketball coach at St. John’s.
“Just really, really happy for him. I think he’s been a great coach wherever he is,” Thibodeau said before the Knicks’ 140-134 loss to the Timberwolves Monday Night at the Garden. When I was a young coach, I would go and watch him practice in Providence.
“So he’s a good guy, a great coach, and I know he’s going to do a great job at St John’s.”
The 70-year-old Pitino was hired by the Red Storm on Monday after three seasons — and two NCAA Tournament berths — in Iona.
Thibodeau was an assistant coach at Harvard from 1985 to 1989, while Pitino was at Providence from 1985 to 1987.
Pitino was named the Knicks coach after leading the Friars to the Final Four in 1987, before returning to the college ranks at Kentucky two years later.
Thibodeau believes Jalen Brunson, who finished with 23 points and 10 assists, should be a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, which Julius Randle (57 points, four rebounds) won in 2020-21.
Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen and Thunder guard Shay Gilgos-Alexander are considered candidates for the award.
“I just think you look at what he’s done. And I think the important thing is the impact on the win, for all of our players,” Thibodeau said of Bronson, who went 9-18 from the field and made two runs. “And I think when you win, the byproduct of winning is that people get recognized. So I hope he gets recognized, but I don’t want him to go missing.
“We have a number of guys who are hopefully ready for things, just don’t overlook, don’t get sidetracked. [But] It’s the impact he’s had on the team… You can’t tell what he meant for our team just from a leadership point of view.”
Carl Anthony Towns (strained right calf) and Anthony Edwards (sprained right ankle) were out for the Timberwolves.
Rudi Gobert (left ankle sprain) was available after being listed as questionable.
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