Tom Thibodeau praised Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat organization, adding that he's establishing a culture of discipline and conditioning with the New York Knicks.
“He plays very unselfishly, plays to win. He’s not about statistics. I knew that from the start with him. I never envisioned him being this good. I always thought he’d be a good player. But he’s made himself into a superstar because of his intelligence, talent and work ethic. He’s a guy who constantly studies and brings about the best in his teammates," said Thibodeau of Butler.
Butler reportedly bristled at the lack of professionalism from his Timberwolves' teammates when he and Thibodeau were together in Minnesota.
“Butler didn’t like some of the guys’ lack of professionalism. [Jimmy] and Tom had long talks about how to deal with it. ... Tommy was telling him to have patience, see it through," a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Thibodeau then praised Pat Riley's ability to incorporate his principles within the Heat.
“I have great respect for the Heat organization, the way they play, what Pat Riley has done there ... the things they believe in have stood the test of time — fundamentals, intensity, their work ethic. Those are all Pat Riley trademarks. I know Knicks fans are familiar with that from when Pat was here," added Thibodeau.
The new Knicks' coach added that he wanted to emulate the Heat's approach to the fundamentals.
“The important thing for us is establishing the conditioning and discipline part and also going over all the fundamentals and starting from a zero base. We’re building a foundation.’’