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:
SAN ANTONIO’S GREGG POPOVICH NAMED 2011-12 NBA COACH OF THE YEAR
— 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:
2011-12 NBA COACH OF THE YEAR RESULTS
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
ALL-TIME NBA COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
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