Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 10:37 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet's "The Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday morning and while he backed away from NBA Coach of the Year talk, he did proclaim--at least initially--the Bulls to be the best team in the Eastern Conference.
When asked by Patrick, the show's host, Thibodeau calmly replied, "I believe we're there now."
However, it seemed that the first-year Bulls head coach was merely referring to the team's record, as Tuesday night's home win over Washington--the team's seventh consecutive victory and 12th straight at the United Center--gave the Bulls sole possession of first place in the East.
"I don't know if we're the best team. Our record says right now we are," Thibodeau later said. "There's a lot of work to be done and we're not complete."
READ: Short-handed Bulls nab sole possession of first
The ever-diligent strategist quipped to Patrick that he does "a little bit" of worrying, dismissed any premature Coach of the Year praise by stating, "I don't even want to think about stuff like that."
Thibodeau's answer was similar when he was asked about any added pressure after the recent statements of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan that team could win four and six NBA titles, respectively.
"We don't worry about any of that stuff. We don't want to skip any steps," the coach responded. "If you do the right things every day...the results will take care of themselves."
He was a bit more expansive when discussing the development of league MVP frontrunner Derrick Rose's game.
"He's been great all year from the start," praised Thibodeau. "What you see in the game is what you see in practice."
"He works on all aspects of his game," he continued. "He's challenged himself to be a great complete player."
"This season, he's taken it to another level because he's taken it upon himself to lift the other players on his team."
Patrick, who struggled with the pronunciation of Thibodeau's last name--as most do with "Thibs"--also queried the coach about the "goofy" side of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed Tuesday's win due to illness.
WATCH: Sam & Sam, Aggrey talks with Bulls.com's Sam Smith
"He's a character," said Thibodeau, who added the last time Noah made him laugh was "the last time I saw him."
"He's had a tough year with the injuries and now he's sick, but he's done a great job for us."
Thibodeau also discussed his tutelage under Boston head coach Doc Rivers and the prospect of facing the Celtics in the postseason.
"I've been very fortunate to be under a lot of my great coaches in my career," said Thibodeau. "The experience in Boston was great for me because it was at a championship level."
"I think once you get to the playoffs, you're not going to get around people; you have to go through them," he continued. "If we face them, we face them and we'll look forward to it."
"They've changed quite a bit. "It's not the same team...but they're going to be a tough opponent for anybody."
READ: Bulls bench playing major role in recent success
Patrick, who compared Thibodeau's speaking voice to "a young Phil Jackson," also asked Thibodeau about his involvement with last summer's recruitment of LeBron James.
"Helping the Bulls acquire James never came up in the hiring process; Thibodeau and James are represented by the same agency," said Thibodeau. "To me, they all earned the right to be free agents and choose wherever they want to go."
"It worked out well for us," he added. "I don't think anybody could direct LeBron and tell him where he wanted to go."
Thibodeau was also asked about the Bulls' early-season trade discussions regarding Carmelo Anthony.
"I know our management team had conversations, but that didn't work out either," he said. "I'm happy with the group of guys that we have."
The coach did, however, rebut Patrick's point that Anthony would have been a bad fit because of the perception that he's a poor defender.
"Listen, great players can fit in anywhere," Thibodeau noted. "Sometimes players can change."
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.