Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Tom Thibodeau Takes Everything Too Seriously, Including First Pitches

NBA writer Sam Smith wrote a thoughtful eulogy following the demise of Tom Thibodeau’s stint with the Chicago Bulls, and the article contains an anecdote about how Thibodeau, who gets caught up in an intense obsession with every objective, prepared for a first pitch at a Cubs-White Sox game right after his first season as the team’s coach in 2011.


Believe it or not, Smith said that Thibodeau practiced every detail of his routine to throw a first pitch days before the game:

Thibodeau enlisted a Bulls staffer and he went out and purchased several dozen baseballs a few days before the game. Then after a typical off season day of preparing for the NBA draft and already combing game film for next season, they adjourned to a nearby baseball field.

Thibodeau went to the mound about 50 feet away with the bucket of baseballs and started throwing one after another until sweat was pouring off him on the hot, humid afternoon. For perhaps an hour, Thibs practiced his throw. Almost all of them were perfect as Thibs still is a pretty good athlete and despite a late night appetite still was in good shape before knee surgery to come. But another and another. Like his practices and walk throughs in his philosophy of life and basketball, it’s in the preparation and the building of habits.

But there was more than just throwing the ball.

Thibs practiced walking the 50 or 60 feet back and forth; he practiced a wave, which he would do so casually and professionally that night. A little league team showed up after a while to practice on the field. Thibs persuaded them to give him a little more time and again he went through the routine as they watched.


MLB actually has the first pitch. Let’s see the result of all that work:

Not bad. Anyway, someone needs to put Thibodeau into a stasis chamber for at least a month.


Photo: AP

Contact the author at

Share This Story

Get our newsletter