Tom Thibodeau loses chance to make history

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Bulls guard Richard Hamilton scores over Sixers guard Evan Turner in the first quarter as the Chicago Bulls take on the Philadelphia 76er’s Tuesday May 1, 2012 at the United Center in Chicago. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year, denying Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau a chance to become the first coach in history to win the honor in back-to-back seasons.

The NBA has announced that Popovich has won the award for the second-time in his 16-year career after leading a veteran Spurs team that includes Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili through the lockout-shortened, 66-game season with a 50-16 record.

Popovich finished with 467 votes from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters. Thibodeau had 315 points. The Pacers’ Frank Vogel was third with 161 points.

“The thing about Pop is he’s a great example for our profession,” Thibodeau said. “I’m happy for him. He’s had a great season. The way he runs an organization, you can’t say enough about him. The thing I really admire about him is I had an opportunity to meet him 20 years ago and he’s the same guy today that he was then. All the success, the championships, he hasn’t changed one bit.”

The Bulls finished with an identical record but secured home-court advantage through the NBA Finals because they defeated the Spurs in their only head-to-head meeting this season.

Thibodeau led the Bulls to the league’s best record for the second straight season despite players missing 98 games because of illness or injuries compared to 61 last season. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose missed 27 games during the regular season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Saturday’s win over the Sixers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Dream denied?

Rose will be unable to play for Team USA at the London Games because of his knee injury, which could end his dream of winning Olympic gold if what NBA commissioner David Stern told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd on Monday becomes a reality.

“My own view is that post-London, we should be thinking about what soccer does and make it 23 and under,” Stern said.

Rose is 23, which means he would be too old to compete in the next Olympics. Rose was a member of the 2010 USA World Championship team that claimed the gold medal in Istanbul, Turkey.

“It’s an honor just to be on that team,” Rose said earlier this season. “If they choose me to be on that team I would love to play. It’s a goal of mine, to win a gold medal.”


Friday’s Game 3 will be broadcast on ESPN2 instead of ESPN.

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