Mike Thibault enters his 12th season with the Mystics as General Manager after retiring from coaching the Mystics on November 15, 2022. Thibault was originally named the head coach/ general manager of the Washington Mystics on December 18, 2012, leading Washington to the organization’s first WNBA championship in 2019.
The 2023 season marked Thibault’s first season away from the bench, after spending last 10 years in a dual general manger/head coach role. Thibault transition to focusing on basketball operations continued the consistency seen throughout his tenure, with the Mystics making the playoffs in all but two seasons (2016, 2021) since 2013. His marquee off season addition, Brittney Sykes, proceeded to have a banner year, averaging career-highs in points (15.9), rebounds (5.9), assists (3.8) and steals (2.1) and was named to the league’s All-Defensive Second Team.
Throughout Thibault’s time as head coach of the Washington Mystics, he recorded numerous achievements and milestones. Thibault led the Mystics to eight total postseason appearances (2013-2015, 2017-2020, 2022) and he recorded his 350th career win on June 17, 2021, vs. Atlanta. In 2017, Thibault also orchestrated one of the greatest transactions in franchise history with the acquisition of Olympian and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. In 2017, Washington made it past the first round of the 2017 WNBA playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Following the 2013 season, his first season with Washington, Thibault earned his third WNBA Coach of the Year recognition. Numerous players under his tutelage have earned awards and recognitions. Forward Elena Delle Donne earned her second Most Valuable Player (2019), forward Emma Meesseman became the first reserve player in WNBA history to be named Finals Most Valuable Player (2019), Myisha Hines-Allen was named to the 2020 All-WNBA Second Team, Natasha Cloud averaged a career-best and league leading 7.0 assists per game during the 2022 season and Ariel Atkins was named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team. Atkins had also been named to the WNBA All-Defensive Team for five consecutive seasons (2018-2022).
The 2019 Mystics displayed one of the greatest offenses in WNBA history, posting the WNBA’s highest offensive rating ever, at the time, at 112.9. The Mystics made their second consecutive WNBA Finals appearance (2018-2019), their best two-year stretch in franchise history, with the team going 48-20 during that span, and a franchise-best 26-8 record during the 2019 season.
During an unprecedented 2020 WNBA season, Thibault led the shorthanded Mystics to their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Under Thibault’s guidance, young players Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen had career seasons, both posting career-highs in points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, and assists. In 2022, the team returned to the playoffs. Since 2018, the Mystics have been one of four teams to have had three 20+ win seasons. The team’s defense was impressive, as Washington finished with a league-best defensive rating of 96.0.
The winningest coach in WNBA history (379-289), Thibault led his teams to a total 16 playoff appearances, the most by a coach in WNBA history. Thibault has coached 10 Olympians and 17 All-Stars, two MVPs (Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne) and one Final’s MVP (Emma Meesseman). He has represented the Eastern Conference as the head coach in three All-Star games (2005, 2006, 2019) and to four WNBA Finals (2004, 2005, 2018, 2019).
Prior to joining the Mystics, Thibault was the head coach of the Connecticut Sun where he was twice named WNBA Coach of the Year (2006, 2008) and led the team to eight playoff appearances and two WNBA Finals. He set numerous milestones during his time with the Sun, including becoming the second coach in WNBA history to reach 200 wins, the third-fastest coach in league history to reach 100 wins (doing so in 159 games) and the fourth WNBA head coach to work at least 300 regular season games. From 2003 through 2008, Thibault and the Connecticut Sun won 127 regular season games, tying with the Detroit Shock for the most victories during that six-year span. The Sun were one of two teams to have six consecutive winning seasons. Connecticut posted consecutive 26-8 records in 2005 and 2006, which are still the best regular season results for an Eastern Conference team.
Thibault assisted in the blockbuster trade that sent Lindsay Whalen and the No. 2 pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft to Minnesota in exchange for second year guard Renee Montgomery and the No. 1 pick in 2010, which the team used to select Tina Charles. Under Thibault’s tutelage, Charles was named the league’s MVP in 2012.
Thibault joined the professional coaching ranks in 1978 as a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and was quickly promoted to Director of Scouting and assistant coach in 1980. During his tenure with the Lakers, the team won two NBA Championships. From 1982-1986, he served as the Director of Player Personnel and assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls when the organization selected Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley and traded for John Paxson.
Thibault served as the general manager and head coach of the Omaha Racers of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) where his team captured the league’s title in 1993. During his tenure with the Racers, the team made eight consecutive playoff appearances, and Thibault was named the 1993 Sportsman of the Year by Omaha broadcasters. He ranks sixth on the CBA’s all-time coaching victory list (236). Thibault also coached the Calgary 88’s of the World Basketball League (WBL) where he received Coach of the Year honors in 1988. Following his time in Omaha, Thibault was a scout for the Seattle Sonics.
Prior to joining the Sun in 2003, he was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks for four seasons.
Thibault has had an extensive collaboration with USA Basketball. Thibault has recently participated in numerous USA Basketball training camps and exhibition games as an assistant coach on head coach Cheryl Reeves staff. He also served as an assistant coach to the US Women’s National Team where Team USA won a gold medal during the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball Championship. Thibault was on the coaching staff that won gold during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2006 National Team that captured bronze during the World Championships. Thibault was also the head coach of the men’s team that won the gold medal at the 1993 FIBA World Championship qualifying tournament and was also at the helm of the men’s team that won the silver medal at the 1995 Pan American Games.
Mike and his wife Nanci have been staunch supporters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since Mike’s days with the Omaha Racers. In 2007, the Thibaults were co-chairs of GREAT STRIDES, the primary fundraiser of the CF Foundation’s Connecticut Chapter. The Thibaults have carried their support of the local community where they live and play by donating tickets to every Washington Mystics game to community organizations. Mike and Nanci have two children and one grandchild.