With Potential Coach of the Year Guiding Them, Can Chicago Bulls Win it All?
With Derrick Rose paving the way, the Chicago Bulls were always going to be pretty good and very entertaining. A first-place team out of the East? That seemed a bit far-fetched. After all, the East has the Big Three in Miami, an experienced championship group in Boston and another team with an MVP-caliber player in Dwight Howard. Yet it’s the Bulls who have locked up the top spot in the East as the seeds have already been set. How did they do it? Well, clearly having Rose helped, and he has a supporting cast that, when healthy, is very solid. But the Bulls also have a hungry first-year head coach in Tom Thibodeau. If Rose is the favorite to win the league’s MVP, his coach is the favorite for Coach of the Year as awards season nears. But how far do you have the Bulls going in the playoffs? I’m predicting an appearance in the Finals.
Tom Thibodeau joined ESPN Radio New York with Jody McDonald and Brandon Tierney to discuss the adjustments he’s made in his first year, what it has been like to work up close with Derrick Rose, how he’ll handle the final few games in terms of giving guys rest, whether he holds a grudge against teams that didn’t give him a chance to be head coach and to give his thoughts on being the favorite to win Coach of the Year.
What has he had to adjust to in his first season as head coach?:
“The basketball part is pretty much what I anticipated, it’s adjusting to all the other stuff — the media requirements, the meetings that you have with management, the meetings that you have with the marketing people, all the stuff off the floor. You’re still managing your time so you have enough time to prepare for practices and games.”
What has he learned about Derrick Rose?:
“When you’re sitting on the opposing bench, it’s pretty easy to see the talent, that’s obvious. Until you get to be around him every day, you don’t see how special he is. I think he has what all the great ones really have is his drive and his humility. He’s never satisfied. He’s going to continue to get better and better year after year. … I can’t say enough about this guy.”
How do you handle the final games in terms of resting guys up?:
“That’s a big challenge for all the head coaches right now. … I think there’s two things you look at. One, you want to be playing your best going into the playoffs. Two, you want to be as healthy as possible. You’ve got to strike that balance. A lot depends on where you are with your team. If you’re a younger team, you tend to want to play your guys more. … If you position is locked up, it’s an easier decision to make. … I like the rhythm that we have and we’re pretty healthy right now.”
Does he have any disenchantment with the Knicks or other teams where he was an assistant but they didn’t give him a chance to be head coach?:
“No, not at all. I loved the times [in New York]. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career. Seven years [in New York], four in Houston and three in Boston. I was always in great situations with great coaches, great players, great cities. … I’m happy for the city. I know what it means to the city and I think they’ve done a great job of getting things back on track.”
On being a probably shoe-in for Coach of the Year:
“We have a great team, I know that. There’s a lot more to it. Any of those awards are more a reflection of the organization and the entire coaching staff. It means you have a great team. I’m not caught up with any of that stuff, I’m just worried about us winning.”