Belichick has big fan in Thi­bodeau

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By JON KRAWCZYNSKI As­so­ci­ated Press

Tom Thi­bodeau has won an NBA cham­pi­onship with the Bos­ton Celtics, a gold medal with Team USA and been hired to take over the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves and re­make them to fit a vi­sion he has care­fully honed over the last two decades.

Among all those sport­ing highs over a long ca­reer, one day stands out as much as any other. There was no tro­phy to raise, medal to don or speech to give. It was the day he spent at a sum­mer prac­tice watch­ing Bill Belichick and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots work.

"It was one of the great days of my life," Thi­bodeau said.

As Belichick pre­pares to lead his Pa­tri­ots against the At­lanta Fal­cons in the Su­per Bowl on Sun­day, he will have few big­ger fans than the hard-driv­ing coach and pres­i­dent of the Wolves. Thi­bodeau grew up a Pa­tri­ots fan in Con­necti­cut and has long been an ad­mirer of the work Belichick has done to mold them into the NFL's model fran­chise.

"I think he's the great­est foot­ball coach of all time," Thi­bodeau said. "What he's done is ut­terly amaz­ing."

Thi­bodeau met Belichick through Doc Rivers while he was an as­sis­tant in Bos­ton, but it wasn't un­til he was the head coach in Chicago that mu­tual friend Tony La Russa ar­ranged for Thi­bodeau to visit the Pats dur­ing or­ga­nized team ac­tiv­i­ties in 2012. Once there, Thi­bodeau got a peek be­hind the cur­tain of the New Eng­land dy­nasty, and it left quite an im­pres­sion.

"Bill's eyes are ev­ery­where. There was so much pre­ci­sion to it," Thi­bodeau said. "It was great to watch. You can see why they've had all the suc­cess they've had. The con­cen­tra­tion in the meet­ings, you can see how clear and con­cise the com­mu­ni­ca­tion was. They were go­ing into the break be­fore fall camp."

The two have main­tained con­tact ever since, spo­rad­i­cally swap­ping text mes­sages. Thibs said he hopes to re­turn to Pa­tri­ots camp next sum­mer now that he does not have Team USA du­ties oc­cu­py­ing his time when the Pa­tri­ots are work­ing.

"Just to main­tain that stan­dard of ex­cel­lence," Thi­bodeau said of Belichick and La Russa. "They have stan­dards and they don't com­pro­mise. They coach hard and there's no non­sense. What­ever comes their way, they han­dle it and han­dle ad­ver­sity when it comes and they just get past it. No mat­ter what it is, there is no ex­cuse mak­ing. They just find a way to get it done."

Photo by Louri­ann Mardo-Zayat / lmzart­

Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves coach Tom Thi­bodeau said “one of the great days in my life” was when he spent a day in Foxboro watch­ing Bill Belichick (pic­tured) run a sum­mer prac­tice.

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