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New York’s Tom Thibodeau wins 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year Award

By APO Group
08 June 2021   |   6:00 pm
New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA ( announced today. This is the second NBA Coach of the Year Award for Thibodeau, who earned the honor in the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Bulls in his first…

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA ( announced today.

This is the second NBA Coach of the Year Award for Thibodeau, who earned the honor in the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Bulls in his first season as an NBA head coach. Now honored in his first season as the Knicks’ head coach, Thibodeau has become the first person to be named NBA Coach of the Year in his first season as head coach with two different franchises. (Cotton Fitzsimmons won the award in his first season as the Kansas City Kings’ head coach, 1978-79, and again in the first season of his second tenure as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach, 1988-89).

Thibodeau received 43 first-place votes and earned 351 total points to edge Phoenix head coach Monty Williams, who finished in second place with 340 points (45 first-place votes). The 11-point difference between the first- and second-place finishers marks the smallest margin since the current NBA Coach of the Year voting format was introduced in the 2002-03 season.

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder finished in third place with 161 points (10 first-place votes). Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

With Thibodeau as head coach, New York finished tied for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference (41-31) and made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Knicks won 16 of their final 20 games to complete a turnaround from last season’s overall record of 21-45.

Thibodeau led New York to an 11-4 record in April for its winningest month since March 2014 (11-5). He was selected as the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for May after guiding the Knicks to a 6-3 record in the final month of the regular season.

The Knicks showed dramatic improvement on defense with Thibodeau at the helm, leading the NBA in points allowed (104.7) and opponents’ field goal percentage (44.0) and ranking fourth in defensive rating (107.8). Last season, New York finished 17th or lower in all three categories.

Under Thibodeau, Julius Randle was named an NBA All-Star for the first time and won the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award. In addition, Derrick Rose was a finalist for the 2020-21 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, 2021 NBA Rising Stars selection RJ Barrett ranked as the fourth-leading scorer among second-year NBA players (17.6 ppg), and rookie Immanuel Quickley averaged 11.4 points after being selected by New York with the 25th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Thibodeau is the 10th head coach to win the NBA Coach of the Year Award more than once and the eighth to do it with multiple franchises. In addition, he is the third head coach to be selected as NBA Coach of the Year with the Knicks, joining Red Holzman (1969-70) and Pat Riley (1992-93).

New York hired Thibodeau as its head coach on July 30, 2020. He has a career regular-season record of 393-277 (.587) in nine seasons as an NBA head coach, guiding teams to the playoffs seven times. Before joining the Knicks, he served as head coach of the Bulls for five seasons (2010-15) and the Minnesota Timberwolves over three seasons (2016-19).

The NBA Coach of the Year Award trophy is named in honor of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Red Auerbach. The legendary head coach guided the Celtics to nine NBA championships, including eight in a row from 1959-66.

The voting results for the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year Award are below. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP. Complete ballots for each voter will be posted at after the announcement of all end-of-season awards.

Voting Results: 2020-21 NBA Coach Of The Year Award

Coach (Team)

1st Place Votes

2nd Place Votes

3rd Place Votes

Total Points

(5 Points)

(3 Points)

(1 Point)

Tom Thibodeau (New York)





Monty Williams (Phoenix)





Quin Snyder (Utah)





Doc Rivers (Philadelphia)





Nate McMillan (Atlanta)





Steve Nash (Brooklyn)





Michael Malone (Denver)





Below is the list of winners of the NBA Coach of the Year Award.

NBA Coach Of The Year Award Winners

1962-63 – Harry Gallatin, St. Louis

1982-83 – Don Nelson, Milwaukee

2002-03 – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio

1963-64 – Alex Hannum, San Francisco

1983-84 – Frank Layden, Utah

2003-04 – Hubie Brown, Memphis

1964-65 – Red Auerbach, Boston

1984-85 – Don Nelson, Milwaukee

2004-05 – Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix

1965-66 – Dolph Schayes, Philadelphia

1985-86 – Mike Fratello, Atlanta

2005-06 – Avery Johnson, Dallas

1966-67 – Johnny Kerr, Chicago

1986-87 – Mike Schuler, Portland

2006-07 – Sam Mitchell, Toronto

1967-68 – Richie Guerin, St. Louis

1987-88 – Doug Moe, Denver

2007-08 – Byron Scott, New Orleans

1968-69 – Gene Shue, Baltimore

1988-89 – Cotton Fitzsimmons, Phoenix

2008-09 – Mike Brown, Cleveland

1969-70 – Red Holzman, New York

1989-90 – Pat Riley, L.A. Lakers

2009-10 – Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City

1970-71 – Dick Motta, Chicago

1990-91 – Don Chaney, Houston

2010-11 – Tom Thibodeau, Chicago

1971-72 – Bill Sharman, L.A. Lakers

1991-92 – Don Nelson, Golden State

2011-12 – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio

1972-73 – Tom Heinsohn, Boston

1992-93 – Pat Riley, New York

2012-13 – George Karl, Denver

1973-74 – Ray Scott, Detroit

1993-94 – Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta

2013-14 – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio

1974-75 – Phil Johnson, Kansas City-Omaha

1994-95 – Del Harris, L.A. Lakers

2014-15 – Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta

1975-76 – Bill Fitch, Cleveland

1995-96 – Phil Jackson, Chicago

2015-16 – Steve Kerr, Golden State

1976-77 – Tom Nissalke, Houston

1996-97 – Pat Riley, Miami

2016-17 – Mike D’Antoni, Houston

1977-78 – Hubie Brown, Atlanta

1997-98 – Larry Bird, Indiana

2017-18 – Dwane Casey, Toronto

1978-79 – Cotton Fitzsimmons, Kansas City

1998-99 – Mike Dunleavy, Portland

2018-19 – Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee

1979-80 – Bill Fitch, Boston

1999-00 – Doc Rivers, Orlando

2019-20 – Nick Nurse, Toronto

1980-81 – Jack McKinney, Indiana

2000-01 – Larry Brown, Philadelphia

2020-21 – Tom Thibodeau, New York

1981-82 – Gene Shue, Washington

2001-02 – Rick Carlisle, Detroit

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of National Basketball Association (NBA).