Doc Rivers said Thursday he believes his close friend Tom Thibodeau taking a year from coaching has been good for the former Bulls' lead man.
The Clippers head coach said prior to the game against the Bulls at the United Center that he speaks every day with Thibodeau, who he hired in Boston in 2007 and won a championship with in 2008.
"He’s an interesting guy. He loves basketball," Rivers said with a smile. "I think this has been good for him."
Thibodeau was fired in May after five seasons with the Bulls, during which he reached the Eastern Conference Finals just one time, bowing out in the postseason to LeBron James on three different occasions, while his tumultuous relationship with the front office only made matters worse.
Thibodeau's name popped up in rumors about other head-coaching vacancies, but nothing ever surfaced. He spent his first offseason away from coaching traveling to training camps of coaches with whom he was close. But now that the season has begun Thibodeau has been out of the public spotlight, last seen at the Champions Classic in November.
Rivers said he's able to relate to Thibodeau, seeing as the Clippers' head coach was fired by Orlando in 2003. He took a season off before being named the Celtics head coach a year later.
"I thought at the end of the day it was good for me. At the time I didn’t, I will say that," Rivers admitted. "After going through it I thought it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Let me take a look back at what I needed to do better, at what worked. It also validates that as well, and I’m sure he’s doing the same thing."
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
Still a basketball junkie, Thibodeau is still taking in plenty of basketball during his time off, Rivers said. And certainly more than Rivers did during his year away from the game.
"He watches more games than I did, I can tell you that," Rivers said. "I was golfing."