There is a rumor that Tom Thibodeau, burberry handbags once, cracked a joke.
"Jo!," Carlos Boozer yells across the locker room, to Joakim Noah. "How many jokes has Thibs cracked in the two years we've been together?"
"Never," Noah responds.
"There's your answer," Boozer said. "Maybe -- maybe -- once."
"The Scal stuff," Noah says. "He said some (bleep) about Scal being like that guy in the movie? Will Ferrell?"
"Oh," Boozer says, remembering. "In New Orleans, Video Will Ferrell introduced us. It was 70s night. And (Thibodeau) made a joke that (Brian) Scalabrine was the guy from, remember that movie? Semi Pro? That was the joke. In two years. He's very serious."
Boozer says this well within earshot of Thibodeau, who smiles easily, and why not? These are -- relatively -- easy times for the Bulls, who have the league's best record, playing at a cool .800 clip, despite losing defending MVP Derrick Rose for several games with back and groin troubles, and without their major offseason acquisition, Rip Hamilton, giving them much of anything, sidelined for all but 16 games with a bad groin and shoulder.
They go through point guards with regularity -- and, it seems, without losing a step. They've used C.J. Watson and John Lucas III (see below) and Mike James as Rose's replacements; that trio is shooting a combined 41 percent from 3-point range and has an assist-turnover ratio of burberry shirts for women cheap 2.13 to 1. After back-to-back wins over the Raptors, the Bulls are an amazing 12-4 without Rose.
The trust the Bulls' vets have in their young guards isn't by accident. The offense requires the ballhandler attack as much as possible. And in Watson and Lucas (James' 10-day deal expired over the weekend), the Bulls have two high-quality players.
"I think it's just the way our team is built," Noah said. "I think that the Bulls, they do a great job, and character is a big thing for the GMs. [John] Paxson [the team president], Gar [Forman, the general manager] and [owner] Jerry Reinsdorf are big on character. I think we have a lot of character on this team and guys play for the right reasons."
The relatively seamless transition in point guard production has been at the heart of Chicago's excellent play all season; the Bulls are fourth in the league in points per 100 possessions (105.7 points per game). Boozer has played every game after missing 23 games last year with a broken hand.
As ever, they are locked in on defense, currently second in the league in points per 100 possessions (96 ppg), which has led to Chicago's league-best point differential of 8.9 per game.
And while the Bulls looked into acquiring Pau Gasol from the Lakers and Dwight Howard from the Magic, they never got close to pulling the trigger on either deal. Rose made it clear that he had no interest in lobbying other players to come to Chicago.
"I think D-Rose said it best," Boozer said. "A lot of guys are going to want to come to our team, 'cause we're at the top. We have a great group. There are only a handful of teams that are at the top, and we're one of them. You heard what D-Rose said. We have enough to win in that locker room. What we've got already is all we need."
That includes Thibodeau, who last week became the fastest coach in NBA history to 100 wins (130 games, one quicker than Avery Johnson). But while the Bulls will certainly pick up Thibodeau's third-year option on his two-year deal, the Bulls' coach has yet to be signed to a long-term extension. (Meanwhile, Dallas' Rick Carlisle and Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks have reached the last year of their current deals without immediate resolution from their respective teams.)Ray ban sunglasses, cheap gucci sunglasses, burberry sunglasses sale.
Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune last month via e-mail: "Tom does a great job with this team, and you see the results of his hard work every time the players take the court. We certainly hope and expect that Tom will be with the Bulls well beyond his current contract. However, there is nothing to announce at this time."
Thibodeau came to Chicago in 2010 with a reputation as one of the league's best defensive coaches, having spent two decades learning and shaping his defensive philosophies as a top assistant for Jeff Van Gundy and Doc Rivers. That rep has only been enhanced by his wild success in Chicago, which led to a Video Coach of the Year award last season.
His attention to detail remains uncompromising, but like every other coach in this lockout-shortened season, his flexibility has been tested. The Bulls have never been a big full-court practice team in his two seasons, but they watch more tape than ever.
And the continuity of the roster means everyone knows what Thibodeau wants. He is uncompromising in his insistence on defending without fouling: force everything baseline, no gambling for steals, proper body position, hands back and high, long contests on the shot, going straight up and down on the contest, run opponents off the 3-point line.
"It is a very exact system," guard Kyle Korver said. "We ran it all last year and this is basically the same group. I think that happens a lot. I've never been on a team that's been so, almost, monotonously drilled. This is how we're going to play. This is what we're going to do ... these rules are ingrained into our heads. We hear it in our sleep, you know what I mean? And there's no slippage, ever. He won't allow any slippage. So as long as we're out there playing hard, we're normally going to play the right way."
It is not a fun way to play. Go into a Bulls locker room after most every game, and you see an exhausted team. Circles under the eyes. Ice on knees, of course. Daily treatment is encouraged and emphasized; no team may take burberry ties more advantage of its four masseuses than the Bulls. But a coach that is 102-30 out of the gate has a cache that makes complaining pointless.
"It's hard. It's very hard," Noah said. "That's why winning is so sweet, because it's hard. And it is repetitive and you're always tired, and it's always the next one, move on to the next one ... it's emotional. Sometimes things are great, like right now. But we beat Miami last week, and then we lose to a team that just fired their coach (Portland). So it just shows you there's so much talent in this league, mindset is everything."
The Bulls' mindset is Borg-like these days (that's in reference to the collective of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", not the champion tennis player Bjorn. Although, come to think of it, they're about the same). Rose is expected back soon -- he started running in a swimming pool last week and was cleared to start doing a little more running. But the way Rose plays, he said last week, with all that twisting and turning, he wants to make absolutely sure he's completely healed.
Hamilton was finally able to lift his arm Oakley sunglasses above his head a week ago -- "it's getting better," he said -- and is doing everything short of contact. The Bulls can afford to be extra-cautious with both players considering their 10 1/2-game spread over second-place Indiana in the Central. They're now 2 1/2 games clear of Oklahoma City and 3 1/2 games ahead of Miami for best record in the league, too.
But the Heat loom. The Bulls' coach is too focused in his one-game-at-a-time approach to spend much time obsessing about the team that knocked his out of the East finals last season. The players, for the most part, echo that belief -- to a point.
"I think we think about Miami because they're the team that knocked us out last year," Noah said. "They're obviously a pretty high standard. Sometimes we're more worried about us than we are about Miami. But, yeah, all the top teams are on our minds. You know, I've been in enough basketball games to know that's the beauty of sports. In an ideal situation, I want to see Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. In an ideal situation."
But they aren't there yet. And they know it. And playing .750 ball without Rose in the regular season means nothing if Rose is in any way limited in the playoffs. And Boozer has to play better than he has in the past few playoffs. Noah has to produce. Deng has to get through the rest of the regular season without doing more damage to his already-wrecked wrist. That's a lot of ifs.
"This season is a grind, man," Korver said. "It's a grind for us, it's a grind for everyone ... we've got a demanding coach, and it's a grind of a season. Guys have responded really well, and Thibs burberry scarves 2012 has done a great job, obviously, of when to push and when to let up a little bit. We all know what's coming, and we want to be ready for it."
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