Friday, Nov. 5, 2010
Updated 4:08 PM
By Aggrey Sam
The way some folks reacted to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau not playing Joakim Noah (at all) and Derrick Rose (for the majority of) the fourth quarter in Thursday's home loss to the Knicks, one would think he defaced the Michael Jordan statue in front of the United Center. Still, the fact that the rookie NBA head coach's explanation for holding out his two best players (as well of Luol Deng) when Chicago had a chance to win the game didn't hold water is understandable. After the game, Thibodeau said the second unit got the team back into the game and he didn't want to overuse the starters' energy in closing out to New York's legion of three-point shooters.
Alternate theories include: "Thibs" was trying to teach his starters a lesson and instill more of a defensive mentality in a game where the Knicks hit 16 shots from long range; he didn't believe the Bulls truly had a chance to win the game and instead waved the white flag; Rose, Noah and Deng were being rested for Friday's game at Boston, the second leg of a back-to-back.
While all--or none--of the above lines of thinking could be true (or not), let's take a deep breath for a second. In his fourth game coaching the Bulls, Thibodeau--who was roundly heralded as a defensive guru and the answer from the often-underwhelming coaching strategies of Vinny Del Negro--is already being criticized for giving up. The same Tom Thibodeau who is typically referred to as a workaholic?
The NBA's regular season consists of 82 games, ladies and gentlemen, making it a marathon--not a sprint--as the old saying goes. Since he's certainly well acquainted with the competitive nature of Rose and Noah, it's safe to say that the tail end of Thursday's loss can be chalked up as a teachable moment (maybe for players and coach alike) and promises to at least aid Noah in his interior battles with Kevin Garnett and the aging O'Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) and Rose with his premier-point matchup against Rajon Rondo.
Now, if the Bulls end up missing the playoffs by a game or get stuck with an unfavorable postseason pairing, we can all point back to this game. But if a guy has spent approximately 20 years waiting for an opportunity to be an NBA head coach, it would be highly illogical to believe he doesn't have big-picture plans to go along with his ideas for the short-term.
Complain about his rotation, his use of Kyle Korver, the team's disappointing defensive showing against the Knicks--anything other than his will to win. Just over a week into the season, it's way too early to throw that type of notion around.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.