ORLANDOTom Thibodeau might not celebrate the fact that hes on the verge of being the NBA head coach who won 100 games the fastest to start a career, but his peers certainly recognize the feat.
Its a great accomplishment and I think it speaks to the job hes done. Look, theres a lot of great coaches and a lot of people have done great jobs, both last year and this year, but nobodynobodyhas done a better job than Tom has and probably doing a better job this year than a year ago. With all the injuries and everything else, they just keep rolling along, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said before Mondays game.
I said to my assistants the other day, They can probably have all five starters out and still beat everybody. It just seems like they win, no matter what and I think it just speaks toand obviously their players deserve a lot of credit, but so does hebut to me, theyre the best team in the league. As far as a team collectively playing together, being unselfish, being committed, all those things, doing what it takes to win, theyre the best team. So, being the fastest to 100, I dont think you need the accomplishment to know the great job that hes doing, but I think its a great honor for him.
Countered Thibodeau, who would break Avery Johnsons record: It doesnt mean anything, other than I want to win. I want to beat Orlando. Thats the only thing that matters. All that other stuff is meaningless.
With stuff like that, its more of a reflection of the team and the organization. We have a good team, we have good players, great management, great ownership, continued last seasons NBA Coach of the Year, who entered Monday with a career record of 99-30.
The respect from your peers, I think, is important, but I think all that stuff, whether its praise or criticism, it shouldnt affect you. You really only answer to yourself and only you know whether putting everything you have into something, and once you do that, you should be fine with everything and I am. I love the group that we have, I think they work hard every day, they give you everything that they have and if were doing the right things, the results will be positive.
Records aside, Thibodeau does appreciate the fact that his team is blessed with remarkable chemistry, which has allowed them to endure a litany of injuries, including stretches without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose.
I think Chuck Daly had this line. It was a great line about chemistry. He said something along the lines of, I dont know how you get it, but when you have it, you know it and when you have it, dont do anything to mess it up either, so I think theres a lot of truth to that, he said. Were fortunate. We have great guys, we have high character, they all play for each other, they play to win and I think it fits well for us.
Chimed in Van Gundy: They just beat Philly and Miami without Derrick Rose, so you certainly cant expect anything other than a great opponent out there tonight. Theyve played very well without him, they just really have. Those point guards have done a great job, Watson and Lucas. Theyre obviously different. Theyre not the attackers he is, but they can both shoot the hell out of the ball. They can make plays off pick-and-rolls and Boozers been tremendous, so has Deng and theyre running more catch-and-shoot plays for Kyle Korver. They find their way around it and they base their game about what they do at the defensive end anyway. Their defense, I think, more than anything is based around Deng and their bigs, their frontline guys, and so, their defense doesnt really suffer.
Theyre the No. 2 offensive team in the league and the No. 2 defensive team in the league. You see those numbers and you say, championship contender. Were the No. 11 defensive team in the league. That says mediocre, he quipped. Im talking basketball character, guys who are unselfish, willing to play roles, not worried about how many shots they get, guys who can come in not having played a lot and come in and be ready and help a team win, like a John Lucas is doing now for Chicago, like a Jimmy Butler is doing. To me, those are the great teams. Not necessarily record-wise, but those are the great teams and thats what chemistry is all about. I thought we had it that year and I certainly see it in the Bulls, and I think thats why theyve been able to overcome injuries.