Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant coach under current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, couldn’t hide his affection for his former employer.
However, Thibodeau, who helped Boston win the 2008 NBA championship, had to admit that things are very different with the Celtics now. Sidelined All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo — the floor general sat out the second half of the back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Bulls as part of his recovery from an ACL injury and subsequent surgery — is the only player remaining from Thibodeau’s time in Boston.
“It reminds you of the nature of the league. It does, and it’s really how quickly time does go by. You blink an eye, it seems like that championship was yesterday. And you’re looking down the bench, and you’re seeing there’s not many people left. And that’s sort of the way it is,” Thibodeau said. “I think the players, coaches — change is inevitable and it’s how quickly you can adapt to those changes, and that’s sort of the nature of the league. And players get older, they move on. New players come in, young players, players get traded. So there’s constant change — coaches get fired. It’s all part of it, so it’s a great league. I think it brings out the best in people, very competitive and you have to win.”
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At the same time, the coach expressed confidence that the Celtics, clearly in a rebuilding season, will return to being one of the NBA’s premier organizations.
“Well, I have a lot of friends there and I think this was all part of their plan. Obviously it’s a proud franchise that’s accomplished a great deal. There’s no other franchise like it. Seventeen championships throughout all the different decades and it was a great six-year run they had,” the coach explained. “They knew that rebuilding would come after that and the one thing is they won’t sit around. They’ll build through the draft, they’ll make trades and they’ll spend money on free agents, and that’s basically been their formula since Red Auerbach was there and Danny (Ainge, the Celtics' top executive) is basically an extension of that. So to answer your question, I feel for them on most nights, except when we play them.”