Every coaches worst enemy – hindsight – has struck again, this time taking the fight to Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Of course I’m speaking of the criticism Thibodeau is having lofted at him after Derrick Rose suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Bulls’ victory over Philadelphia today in Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs. With a little over a minute left and the Bulls clinging to a 12-point lead, Rose blew out his ACL and MCL on a drive to the hoop. Season over. Bulls’ title hopes over.
Thibodeau is being attacked for having his star player in a game late whose outcome wasn’t up for grabs. Now, as a former high school and collegiate bench-warmer, I’m usually the first to criticize a coach for having his starters in the late moments of a blow out (after all, that is my time to shine on the floor). But in this case I’m on Thibodeau’s side. A 12-point lead with over a minute left isn’t a blow out situation. Especially in the playoffs. Especially considering the Sixers had whittled the lead down from 20 in the previous three minutes of action.
In hindsight, does Thibodeau wish he had Rose sitting safely on the bench instead of on the court at that point in the game? Probably. But did he make a coaching gaffe by having his star in the game still? Absolutely not. Rose’s injury is a case of bad luck, not bad coaching.