Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau watches during the second half of...

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau watches during the second half of the team's NBA game against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 8 in Indianapolis. Credit: AP/Darron Cummings

MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Thibodeau made his return to Minnesota last season as Knicks coach, the first time he faced the team that had fired him in January of 2019. But Tuesday marked the first time that he would be in the Target Center with fans in the building.

"It’s all the same," Thibodeau said. "When you get to be in the stage where I am, there’s a lot of places like that."

Thibodeau made a return to Chicago earlier this season and along with Derrick Rose drew ovations from the crowd. But his parting in Minnesota was more acrimonious with the firing coming in midseason and putting him out of the league until the Knicks came calling before last season. He was booed Tuesday night by the Target Center fans.

"Look, I have fond memories from when I was here, getting to the playoffs, seeing the building filled in the playoffs," Thibodeau said. "I loved living here. I enjoyed it. Great people. So I have a lot of friends here. I enjoyed my time, but it’s the reality of the league."

And the weather, which was in single digits for the Knicks stay here this time along with snow falling through most of the day?

"You know, you get used to it," Thibodeau said. "The summers are beautiful. The way downtown is designed is terrific, skyways [connecting buildings]. You don’t really feel it. But it’s beautiful in the summer."

Honors after benching

Kemba Walker was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week Monday for his performance over four games after having been benched for the previous 10 games.

"It’s great," Thibodeau said. "He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team."

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