Tyrone Corbin ties for sixth in NBA coach of year voting

(NOTE: UPDATED at 2:45 p.m. MT with my ballot information…)

Tyrone Corbin hasn’t had a full season as head coach of the Utah Jazz yet, but he caught some attention in his second irregular season after replacing Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan last year.

Spurs’ bench boss Gregg Popovich has been named the 2011-12 NBA coach of the year by a landslide, earning 77 of 119 first-place votes (and 467 points) to win his second Red Auerbach Trophy. The aging Spurs finished at an NBA-best 50-16 along with Chicago, whose coach, Tom Thibodeau (27 first-place votes, 315 points) took runner-up after doing a terrific job in Derrick Rose’s injury-plagued season.

(Full disclosure: I was fortunate enough to be one of the voters.)

Corbin was rewarded for helping the Jazz defy most critics’ low expectations and guide Utah to a better-than-expected 36-30 record and into the playoffs. He received the sixth-most points, tying with OKC’s Scott Brooks with nine points. (Corbin received one second-place vote and six third-place votes.)

Indiana’s Frank Vogel finished third with seven first-place votes (161 points), Memphis’ Lionel Hollins was fourth (six, 50) and Boston’s Doc Rivers (one, nine) was fifth. Brooks had nine points but received two second-place votes.

The Jazz haven’t had a coach win the NBA honor since Frank Layden in 1983-84. Inexplicably, Jerry Sloan never received the top coaching prize despite his Hall of Fame-worthy coaching career and unprecedented legacy with one franchise.

I debated whether or not to share my ballot, but what the heck. Drum roll, please …

My 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year ballot:

• 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs — Great at in-game adjustments; gets most out of roster from top to bottom; not afraid to thumb nose at NBA’s insane schedule to benefit his team by resting Big Three; tying for best record with aging Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili was superb coaching.

It’s a shame NBA voters back in the day didn’t honor Sloan for the same reason they just rewarded Popovich, but at least they didn’t perpetuate the tradition of making this a “Who overachieved” award. Sometimes that’s fitting. This year it wasn’t.

• 2. Tyrone Corbin, Utah Jazz — I was hesitant to divulge my votes, because I don’t want to come across as some homer journalist who drinks the Kool-Aid of the team he covers. But look at what Corbin has done over the past 14 months, and it’s really remarkable. I’m a bit surprised I was the only one who voted him higher than third, although there were multiple coaches that really did terrific jobs in this wacky season (Popovich, Thibodeau, Vogel, Hollins, Brooks and Karl, in particular).

Corbin took a team in shambles — after Sloan and D-Will exited stage right — and glued it back together with a bunch of new pieces. Corbin didn’t name a team captain, and it turned out he is the team captain. He guided this cast of misfits into the playoffs despite hardly anybody else believing they’d even get 25 or 30 wins. Perhaps Corbin relied on his veterans too much (namely Raja Bell, Josh Howard and C.J. Miles) and didn’t give some of his young guys enough minutes (particularly Derrick Favors and Alec Burks). That’s to be debated. But over the course of the season, Corbin instilled a belief in the team that it could achieve if it kept on keeping on. And it did. So he got my silver vote. And I drank some more Jazz Kool-Aid.

• 3. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls: I went back and forth, and forth and back, trying to decide between Thibs and Indiana’s Frank Vogel. I probably should’ve considered Denver’s George Karl some more, too.

Ultimately, what Thibodeau did this year with injuries was pretty fantastic. Not only did he get the Bulls to win as many games as the Spurs with Derrick Rose being out for a third of the season, but he also managed to keep Carlos Boozer on the court for EVERY SINGLE GAME! That sold me.

Here’s the NBA’s press release:


— Popovich Wins 2nd Red Auerbach Trophy after Leading Spurs to

League-Tying-Best 50 Victories –

NEW  YORK,  May  1, 2012 – San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich is the recipient of the  Red  Auerbach  Trophy  as  the  2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today.

Popovich,  who  also  earned  the  honor  in  2002-03,  totaled 467 points, including  77  first-place  votes,  from  a  panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters  throughout the United States and Canada. 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. The award was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP.

In his 16th season as head coach of the Spurs, Popovich guided San Antonio to a league-tying-best 50-16 (.758) record. With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs ranked second in the league in scoring (103.7 ppg) and point-differential (+7.2). In the second half of the season, however, the

Spurs were the league’s most dominant team, posting an NBA-best 26-6 (.813) record while averaging league highs in scoring (108.3 ppg) and point-differential (+10.8). In the process, Popovich guided the Spurs to their 15th consecutive postseason berth, which is the longest active streak in the NBA.

The Spurs finished the season winning 10 straight games, 24 of their last 27 and 38 of their last 45. San Antonio won at least 50 games for the 13th consecutive season – all under Popovich’s tenure – surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers (1979-80 to 1990-91) for the longest streak in NBA history.

The Spurs also set a franchise mark with three double-digit winning streaks.

Popovich was named the Coach of the Month in February and March, giving him 14 Coach of the Month awards in his career, the most in league annals. His back-to-back wins marked the second time Popovich earned consecutive coaching honors (November and December, 2010).

The longest tenured coach with the same team in all four major professional sports, Popovich holds the best winning percentage of the longest tenured coaches in the other three major professional sports (.679). In addition, his 847 victories with the Spurs ranks second all-time in NBA history for most wins with one team (Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz, 1,127)

Popovich also supports the NBA Coaches for Kids program, a league initiative in partnership with the NBA Coaches Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched during the 2008-09 NBA season.  To date, the program has provided more than 155,000 Boys & Girls Club members with the

chance to attend NBA games.  Youth participants also have the opportunity to meet with NBA coaches, general managers and athletic trainers and learn the fundamentals of the game, the values of sportsmanship and teamwork, and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

The Coach of the Year Award is named after legendary coach and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach who guided the Celtics to nine NBA Championships. In 1996, Auerbach was honored as one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History as the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Following  are  the balloting results for the 2011-12 NBA Coach of the Year award and the all-time list of winners:




Coach, Team     1st     2nd             3rd                     Pts

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio     77      24      10      467

Tom Thibodeau, Chicago  27      53      21      315

Frank Vogel, Indiana            7       27       45      161

Lionel Hollins, Memphis 6       3       11      50

Doc Rivers, Boston              1        4        9       26

Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City     0       2       3       9

Tyrone Corbin, Utah             0       1       6       9

George Karl, Denver             1       0       2       7

Mike Brown, L.A. Lakers 0       1       1       4

Stan Van Gundy, Orlando 0       1       1       4

Larry Drew, Atlanta             0       0       3       3

Monty Williams, New Orleans     0       1       0       3

Vinny Del Negro, L.A. Clippers  0       0       2       2

Kevin McHale, Houston   0       0       2       2

Alvin Gentry, Phoenix           0       0       1       1





1962-63 – Harry Gallatin, St. Louis

1963-64 – Alex Hannum, San Francisco

1964-65 – Red Auerbach, Boston

1965-66 – Dolph Schayes, Philadelphia

1966-67 – Johnny Kerr, Chicago

1967-68 – Richie Guerin, St. Louis

1968-69 – Gene Shue, Baltimore

1969-70 – Red Holzman, New York

1970-71 – Dick Motta, Chicago

1971-72 – Bill Sharman, Los Angeles

1972-73 – Tom Heinsohn, Boston

1973-74 – Ray Scott, Detroit

1974-75 – Phil Johnson, Kansas City-Omaha

1975-76 – Bill Fitch, Cleveland

1976-77 – Tom Nissalke, Houston

1977-78 – Hubie Brown, Atlanta

1978-79 – Cotton Fitzsimmons, Kansas City

1979-80 – Bill Fitch, Boston

1980-81 – Jack McKinney, Indiana

1981-82 – Gene Shue, Washington

1982-83 – Don Nelson, Milwaukee

1983-84 – Frank Layden, Utah

1984-85 – Don Nelson, Milwaukee

1985-86 – Mike Fratello, Atlanta

1986-87 – Mike Schuler, Portland

1987-88 – Doug Moe, Denver

1988-89 – Cotton Fitzsimmons, Phoenix

1989-90 – Pat Riley, LA Lakers

1990-91 – Don Chaney, Houston

1991-92 – Don Nelson, Golden State

1992-93 – Pat Riley, New York

1993-94 – Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta

1994-95 – Del Harris, Los Angeles Lakers

1995-96 – Phil Jackson, Chicago

1996-97 – Pat Riley, Miami

1997-98 – Larry Bird, Indiana

1998-99 – Mike Dunleavy, Portland

1999-00 – Doc Rivers, Orlando

2000-01 – Larry Brown, Philadelphia

2001-02 – Rick Carlisle, Detroit

2002-03 – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio

2003-04 – Hubie Brown, Memphis

2004-05 – Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix

2005-06 – Avery Johnson, Dallas

2006-07 – Sam Mitchell, Toronto

2007-08 – Byron Scott, New Orleans

2008-09 – Mike Brown, Cleveland

2009-10 – Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City

2010-11 – Tom Thibodeau, Chicago

2011-12 – Gregg Popovich, San Antonio


  1. TheeJazzFazz

    If the Lakers, Bulls or Knicks were picked to finish dead last in their conference and they managed to finish 6 games over .500 and make the playoffs their coach would be the unanimous NBA Coach of the Year…thanks a lot Stern.

    • Jody Genessy

      Just an FYI: This particular award is decided by a vote of sports writers and broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada. I don’t disagree with the sentiment that coaches in bigger markets would’ve gotten more attention and respect, though.