The Timberwolves received TNT “Inside the NBA” crew’s approval after hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations on Wednesday.
Charles Barkley said during Wednesday night’s postgame show that “Thibs is going to do a great job in Minnesota. He’s a heck of a coach … I’ve got great respect for Thibs and that team has a bright future.”
Barkley’s endorsement didn’t come without a few points of concern. First, Barkley argued that Wolves former interim head coach Sam Mitchell and staff should have gotten another chance to coach the team. Then he questioned the way Thibodeau used his players while coaching in Chicago.
“I think Thibs is going to be better,” Barkley said. “I think he learned from some things in Chicago where he kind of played those guys too much, trying to win every single game, playing guys max minutes. He has got to learn that the human body only has so many runs and jumps in it, and you can’t play guys and practice guys until you grind them down. I think he’s going to learn because he’s a heck of a coach.”
Shaquille O’Neal’s wonders if Thibodeau won’t be able to relate to the Wolves’ young talent.
“My only concern for Thibs is he doesn’t speak the language of the new era of basketball,” O’Neal said. “He’s an old-school guy, get in your face, a rah-rah guy. The type of player today, they’re not really used to that.”
Kenny Smith said Thibodeau will be a great teacher for young players like Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach Lavine.
“Wiggins, KAT, all of those guys, they’re figuring out how to be pros,” Smith said. “Thibs will put in place a mechanism to make them be a pro. Then it becomes a habit. Then it becomes easy for you to do it. Then you don’t have to think about being a pro. Then you get better. That’s what is missing today.”
The segment started with a Star Tribune photo of Thibodeau from 1989 when he was an assistant coach for the Wolves. Barkley and O’Neal celebrated Thibodeau’s hairstyle before shifting the focus back to basketball. The photo taken by David Brewster has gone viral over the last several weeks.
Watch the video to find out what ESPN hockey analyst Thibodeau’s 1989 flow was compared to.