Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler says at first he 'couldn't stand' Tom Thibodeau

After the blockbuster trade on draft night this summer that sent Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the major subplots that everyone latched onto was Butler being reunited with his old coach Tom Thibodeau.

Thibs, of course, was the coach in Chicago from 2010-2015, and thus was in charge for Butler's first four seasons in the league. And while Butler is pleased to be back with his old coach, he noted in a new interview that when he first arrived in the NBA, he "couldn't stand" the hard-nosed Thibodeau. Via ESPN:

Thibs is known for a hard-charging style that can wear players down. Any concerns?
I love it, but you have to find the balance and get your point across without running bodies into the ground. I can say: "Thibs, we get it. I'm on these guys. Let's move on to the next one." That's part of my role here.

In what ways has Thibs changed since your first go-round?
In Chicago, it was like, "We're getting right into drills. I don't care how your day's going." Now he's joking around and asking guys, "Hey, how's your wife and kids?" I'm human. Basketball's not the most important thing in my life. I think he's starting to realize that.

Sounds like you two have come a long way since he drafted you.
I won't lie: Couldn't stand him. I never use the word "hate," but he was right there. I worked so hard, but he wouldn't play me. Finally my time presented itself, and I got a little bit of, "What's up, Jimmy?" I'm like, "I'm moving up!" Now he's my guy.

Even though Butler loves his coach now, this really isn't all that surprising. 

Given all the evidence we have, it's clear that Thibodeau can be pretty abrasive, even as Butler notes, to his own players in practice. For a rookie just entering the league, that's not exactly a personality that will draw you to a coach. It's no wonder that Butler, and likely other players, were put off by Thibs' style. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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