Tom Thibodeau came from Boston with a reputation as a defensive minded coach. He has brought that same attitude with him to Chicago. The Bulls are currently the third best team in the Eastern Conference at 40-17 behind Boston and Miami. When you look at the numbers it’s easy to see why. Derrick Rose is playing at an MVP level, Carlos Boozer has fought through injuries to put together a pretty good season, Joakim Noah is one of the best rebounders in the game, and Luol Deng has been solid since game one. However, this season it’s all about defense in the Windy City and that’s the influence of Tom Thibodeau. With a superstar like Derrick Rose and the second best defense in the NBA statistically, the Bulls will have their say before Boston or Miami starts making plans to play in the NBA Finals in June.
Tom Thibodeau joined ESPN 1000 in Chicago with the Afternoon Saloon to talk about Derrick Rose’s leadership, how important Luol Deng has been this season for the Bulls, what he thinks about the Celtics losing Kendrick Perkins, and how he feels about the Bulls not making a trade at the deadline.
On his ability to fire up Derrick Rose:
“I don’t know about that. D. Rose fires himself up. Derrick has been terrific all year. He sets a great example in practice, in games, in pre-practice, staying late, and you can’t ask any more of a player. He along with Carlos, Luol, Joakim have done a great job leading this team.”
What he thinks of Luol Deng’s play this season:
“To me he’s our glue. You can count on him each and every game. Even if it’s not going well for him offensively, his defense is terrific, his rebounding is terrific, and I never worry about him. I always know at the end of the game that it’s going to work out. I think he puts a lot into the game and he’s so versatile and can score in so many different ways. He can score in transition, post up, flashing, driving, and he plays extremely well off of Derrick. You can’t say enough about the play Derrick made at the end of the game. Just trusting his teammate, primary scorer, second defender comes, and without hesitation delivers the ball on target, and then a huge shot. Not any bigger than that.”
On the Celtics trading away Kendrick Perkins:
“Not only popular. He did so much for that time. He along with Kevin (Garnett) really anchored that defense and there’s probably not a better low post defender in the league than Perkins. He’s a team first guy and was very popular with his teammates, but Boston has a lot of depth. At the end of the day I think it was probably a very tough decision to make and the fact that Perk is a free agent probably played into it. Boston got two pretty good players back for him and it’s a good deal for both teams. Each year he got significantly better and I think offensively he’s very underrated also. He’s a great teammate and very popular there.”
How much input he had on potential trades at the deadline:
“They’re always running things by me and we’re always talking about things. From my standpoint I was happy with what we had. If they felt it was something that could’ve really helped our team then that would’ve been fine, but I liked the way our team has played all season long. We felt very good about our team going into the season. If we continue to do the right things I think we will continue to improve as the season goes along. There were probably more trades this year than I can recall. Usually there’s one or two and a million get talked about, but rarely does anything happen. This year there seems to be more than in the past.”
What it would mean to him to win Coach of the Year:
“It wouldn’t mean anything. I worry more about our team. I believe our players deserve all the credit. They’ve committed to being a team that has worked extremely hard. That individual stuff I don’t worry about that.”
Listen to Tom Thibodeau on ESPN 1000 in Chicago here (Audio begins 10:50 into the podcast)