For Sessions, a new regular feature, ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson sits down with the big names in sports for an in-depth interview about life beyond just the game. First up is Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who talks with Jackson about life, balance and basketball in the pursuit of a championship.
Your Mount Rushmore? I'm not asking you for players, I'm asking you of coaches. If you had a Mount Rushmore of coaches...
I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it...
... not current, all-time.
In any sport?
If you want to do it that way, that's cool. Whatever is comfortable with you.
I got two that I want to name for sure but I don't want to name any others (laugh). Tony LaRussa and Bill Belichick.
Wow. That's funny because recently I've heard you referred to as basketball's Belichick.
I've watched what Bill has done with the Patriots and studied how his teams plays and ... He's unreal. You can't put me in that category. He's incredible. I have a lot of respect for what he's done.
How has your coaching philosophy changed since you got [to Chicago]?
Each year you try to study, learn, evaluate the things that you feel you've done well and things that, you know, some things you want to improve upon. And also things that you want to add. I think that each year you are with a team you build a team and you continue to add the layers on, so I think a big part of coaching is knowing who your team is and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are and ...
Yeah, you try to build around that. And you are also thinking of all of the possibilities of what could happen. And, if this happens how can we respond to that challenge?
Have you kind of grown into that?
You know what, it's something I've always done. Even when I was an assistant coach. You go back through the season and you evaluate everything. And I think the offseason is a great time to generate new ideas and then at the end of the summer you pair down all the thoughts that you have into something. And you might add 10 percent of what you came up with into your playbook. But I think as a general philosophy I don't think you ever want to stay the same. I think you always want to constantly improve and there are certainly things that I can do a lot better.
You think so? Really?
Yeah. (Pause) Yeah.
Is that just you, who you are?
You know, it's like, I've gotten to be good friends with Tony LaRussa. He's retired now, but he studies sports and winning harder than anybody and that's one of the things I admire and respect about him. I can see why he's won as many games as he has. He's a student of winning and what goes into it. And I think those same characteristics go into every sport.
I asked about philosophy. Have you changed as a person since you've been here?
I don't know if I've changed as a person. I'm certainly not perfect. [It's the] same philosophy I think, there's always things [I] can improve upon and [I] have to strive to do better.