Do Your Job – A Fond Look Back at Thibs

Thibs at USA Basketball Game summer 2015.
Thibs at USA Basketball game at the United Center summer 2014.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is wrong with our Bulls. While there are way more questions than answers (Why hasn’t Jimmy Butler been traded? How can GarPax still have jobs? When will we ever see 48 minutes of intensity, a la Norm Van Lier? Why is Fredberg coaching, when he belongs at the YMCA Saturday men’s league – back in Iowa?) — one thing for certain is clear.

If Thibs were still coaching our Bulls, they wouldn’t find themselves mired in mediocrity.

And we, their loyal fans wouldn’t be deleting the 9:30 p.m. CST start time games from our DVRs because we can’t bear the pain of watching yet another blowout loss resulting from a lethargic performance.

What do I miss about Thibs?

With Thibs, you knew what to expect. You had to work hard – bring it every day. He’s kind of old school – my kind of guy. No exceptions or “I don’t feel good” or “I don’t wanna play defense today.” I’ll admit, he’s a taskmaster, and far from the most chipper guy on the block. But down deep, I think he really did care about the guys. And he wanted to win. That desire trickled down to the team.

It seemed that he inspired confidence (and maybe some fear) in members of the team. There was no questioning him – or, like JB did this season refusing to take a time-out that Fredberg called. If you had indicated to Thibs that you didn’t want to take the time-out that he ordered, you could enjoy your life-long stint with the Maine Red Claws or the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (D-League teams), or maybe Yao Ming’s Chinese team would be your new home.

What probably set Thibs apart more than anything is he knew how to lead and motivate. He showed up at the office kind of like me – FILO. It’s First In, Last Out – like in accounting. In essence, he led by example – first at the office, last to leave. He would work harder for you than you.

And most of all, he knew basketball. No one ever questioned his competence. He figured out ways to win when there was only half a team, and teams with far less talent than the Bulls have now. The guys listened to him, didn’t question him. They knew he’d always come up with a plan.

Sure, with Thibs there were bad circus trips and blowouts, and more than a few meltdowns. No matter what, he worked hard, the guys played hard, and you could count on him stalking the sidelines, yelling and flailing. Oh how I miss that. I found comfort in the Thibs rants. I enjoyed seeing his latest custom suit and I relished waiting and waiting to see if he’d ever smile.

I did find one laughing Thibs video. Oh the joy this brings: Tom Thibodeau’s laugh is downright demonic.

And even more than that, with Thibs, you knew the Bulls would always be in the playoffs, and they’d make a run for it before “that other guy” LeBron put an end to the season and all of our hopes, yet again.

While I’ll never ever ever give up on our Bulls, I do question who is running this Bulls show. At least this little trip down memory lane has helped me remember happier days. The games weren’t always pretty, but we could always count on a good fight.

And we all lived by Thibs’ motto – “Know your job. Do your job.”

As the Bulls face the Timberwolves Sunday afternoon, we can look forward to several hours of sideline stalking. I, for one, can’t wait.

And we can hope Thibs will reprise some of his better lines, bringing a smile to all of our faces. I guess that’s about the best we can do at this point. And thank our lucky stars we’re not the Knicks.

PS: Fredberg – I hope you’re listening/reading.

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THIBS

“People always talk about going on offensive runs. But you can go on defensive runs too.”

“There are no short cuts. If you want to do something special, there’s a serious price to pay. There’s no way around it.”

“You have to have core values. What do you believe in? Do you believe in hard work? Do you believe in discipline? Do you believe in conditioning? Because those are the things I know that do work.”

“You’re a sum of all your experiences.”

Credit for quotes:  AZ Quotes

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Timberwolves (sorry Thibs).

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Turning boos into cheers

Last time we met, I was spinning the woeful tale about the Bulls’ unexpected and unfortunate losing streak.

Things have turned around a bit since then, and today’s headline, courtesy of another younger and wiser kid, is from none other than Knicks player Kristaps Porzingis.

I don’t cry too much, and when I do, it’s usually about my Bulls losing in the playoffs. (But lets not get ahead of ourselves.)

This past year, I cried when the fans at the NBA draft booed Porzingis when the Knicks drafted him at #4. I felt so so badly for the poor Latvian kid.

And yet, the success he’s achieved in his rookie year has become a feel-good story of the NBA.

The Bulls, on the other hand, have been living the opposite of the feel-good story. It’s been more like a fan’s worst nightmare. A train wreck if you will.

But on Friday night, when the Bulls returned to the UC after having lost to the Cavs on the road, they looked like the Bulls we knew they could be. And yes, the fans began to cheer again. They defeated the Raps for the third time this season. And yes, the Raptors are # 2 in the East.

And last night, as Kobe made his final appearance at the UC (at least, as a Lakers player), it wasn’t too hard to find cheers. Yes, it seemed like it was all about him.

But thankfully, the fans also cheered for our surging Bulls, and their two-game win streak. And players are stepping up. McBuckets with 30 vs. the Raps. E’Twaun Moore with 24 vs. the Lakers. Derrick is just being Derrick. Yes, that Derrick. MVP Derrick.

“I’m encouraged with what we’re doing offensively,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The ball is moving so much better than it was earlier in the season. As far as the other end of the floor, we never had the toughness you need to pull away.”

And even Kobe got to experience what it’s like to hear the cheers instead of boos.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported:

He (Kobe) clearly enjoyed the night, including the repeated “Kobe! Kobe!” chants from the sellout crowd.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to have that kind of reaction,” Bryant said. “It was a little strange at first because I’m so used to being booed. But I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Let’s hope the Bulls’ win streak continues, and it’s cheers from here on out.

See Red!

Go Bulls!

Beat the Wizards.

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