Bernstein: Thibodeau Gets In Rose’s Face

By Dan Bernstein–

No Bulls team had ever won back-to-back games by a total of 73 points, until yesterday. It had been fifteen years since they had won consecutive games by more than 30 apiece.

Heady stuff for a team that seems to reach more rarified air with each game. Every next breakaway dunk, splashed three-pointer, or backdoor layup seems to have fans daring to ask big questions about a burgeoning team.

But the most significant moment in the last two Bulls games took place in the first quarter in Atlanta last night, before the second rout was even on.

The Hawks’ Al Horford set a ball screen for Kirk Hinrich, who was guarded by Derrick Rose. Rose was effectively walled off, made no commitment to fight over or through the pick, nor did he drop under it with a purpose. Hinrich slashed to the rim and missed the layup, but Horford rolled uncontested to clean it up with a slam.

Time out, Bulls.

A grim-faced Tom Thibodeau stood and waited for Rose to arrive at the bench, and then let him have it like he deserved.

The presumptive NBA MVP got blistered in front of his teammates and a national television audience for not playing defense up to the standards set by the coach. Rock-solid basketball sensibilities were offended, championship-level expectations were not met, and there were immediate, direct consequences. Even for a superstar.

And the best part? Rose appreciates and understands it, because he knows Thibodeau wasn’t pulling a stunt – not for the cameras, and not for the rest of the team. He wasn’t trying to prove anything about his authority or any pecking order. He was coaching.

In every practice from the moment training camp began, in every game at all times — regardless of score – and at every tired walk-through in every NBA arena, Thibs has made his defensive principles the bedrock on which he intends to build a champion.

Rose needs to improve at handling screens, and he knows so. Having the help of a hard “show” by the screener’s man makes his job easier, but some guards make themselves more difficult to pick than others by anticipating angles, knowing the tendencies of the ballhandler, and maintaining the proper balance and body position.

Thibodeau is the kind of coach that has a love/hate approach to games like the last two for the Bulls, unless they come in games six and seven of the NBA Finals. Flurries of made shots are fun for players and fans, but they can mask the truth of a team. He wants to make sure the Bulls have every chance to win on all the other nights, with his Celtics experience keeping him mindful of the bruising playoffs to come.

Celebrate the pinball scores all you want. Feel free. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy such things as 16 consecutive scoring possessions, a 41-point quarter on 81% shooting on the road against a playoff team, 63% three-point shooting in the last two nights, or Omer Asik’s rim-rattling rampage. It’s all good.

I will relish the fact that Thibodeau is celebrating nothing, because he’s more concerned with stopping people when it matters.

I’ll enjoy that Derrick Rose agrees.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Thibodeau Gets In Roses Face
Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    In addition to DRose for MVP…Thibs for Coach of the Year.

    • bigtime sucker

      he don’t want it

      • idicula1979

        Derrick Rose is not just a superstar player and the leagues next MVP, but he just wants to win there is even a commercial about it, but it might be more apparent in his less then gaudy numbers he could easily have. To paraphrase Charles Barkey it is not an athletes place to be a role model, but that just makes it so much more awesome when you have a Derrick Rose a player that flies in the face of the me first culture of today and just might go down in Chicago sports history. I have not met him personally, but I choose to believe the hype, and I don’t think the persona that he has is “for the cameras,” Derrick Rose is truly a cut above.

    • bronzo

      Larry…again I agree 100% As far as MVP and Coach of the year I think the only race is for who is coming in 2nd!!

      The Bulls are just fun to watch…they seem to get better every night, on BOTH sides of the ball.

    • Mike

      Wow, what an observation….thanks for pointing out what we have seen and heard all year, thanks captain obvious. Stick to your afternoon job bernstein.

  • Meatless Meatball

    What you say is fair, Dan — but I am enjoying this immensely. I’ve never seen a team able to be this gracious and likable while beating the bloody pulp out of opponents.

  • Meatless Meatball

    By the way: While Rose may have had a lapse on defense, I think he did all right for himself. Hinrich didn’t have a single point, and that layup was one of only three FGs he attempted. That’s some stifling defense.

  • Larry

    Did anybody elso notice that Deng, who was the last starter pulled off the floor, was removed with about 5 seconds gone in the 4th quarter in the middle of a pair of Asik (I think) free throws when the Bulls lead was exactlt, wait for it, 40 points.

  • joseflanders

    I’m having a hard time remembering a team in this city that is more genuinely fun to root for than these Bulls. The playoffs can’t come soon enough.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Yes, this team is a lot of fun to root for but… uh… Last year’s Blackhawk team was pretty darn likeable too.

      It’s just genuinely a good time to be a Chicago fan… An ascending NBA franchise with a likely MVP, a Bears season that con only be described as “bonus”, and a Stanley Cup in tow… the fact that it’s the other three sports means that Cub and Sox fans can both enjoy it.

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      Seriously. Maybe the Bulls seem more professional, ego-less, and genuine than they actually are because they play in the same town as such less-than-balanced fellas (or just staight-up wankers) like Zambrano, Guillen, Kane, or Cutler. But maybe not, either way they’re good, they’re not obnoxious, and I like ’em.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Yeah, I loved last year’s Blackhawks as a team, but I’ll be the first to tell you that Kane and Versteeg always struck me as Deutsch Banks of the first order. I don’t pick up any of that with this year’s Bulls.

      • Mr. Pouty Pants


  • Lovie's Shiny Chin Scar


  • Spoon

    I’m sad that I’m not a basketball fan right now…

    • Larry

      Plenty of room on the bandwagon

  • South Side Reg

    Excellent point Dan, but what the hell is Thibs doing sitting down with only a 40 point lead?!

  • Danny Mac's car keys

    Daren Bernstine’s right: we are very lucky to have a superstar who sets an example for his teammates, who all follow suit. Are coach is as competitive and dedicated as him, and things are great for Bulls nation—right now, anyway.

    • bigtime sucker

      but all things good about thibs, the fact that he is like a single unmarried basketball junkie, is it good or pathetic? i mean i look at it both ways
      on one end, he has nothing to ground him
      on the other end, his job obsession isn’t ruing any relationships and kids lives
      on one end when he finally got a head job after years of assisting, he had nobody to celebrate with
      on the other end, he hit the ground running

      i don’t think i have seen anything like him in the pro ranks

      • Danny Mac's pet ferret

        Thibs makes a lot of money. And he isn’t hideous (just slightly obese—slightly). I’m sure he’d have someone to call a girlfriend, or wife, or whatever if he wanted to. I’m just glad he’s coaching my favorite basketball team.

  • kev in skokie

    Go Pledge A Legion!!!

  • pulseczar

    Tibs always seems frustrated or annoyed even when they’re winning. I’m not worried about the players getting burned out by Thibodeau; I’m worried about Tibs getting burned out period. He needs to chill sometimes.

    I know that’s who he is and that drive has help bring the Bulls to this point. Some bigger picture levity is needed sometimes.

  • Denver Deadite

    Nobody updated the ToB brackets?

    There was talk briefly yesterday on B&B about another baseball stat that somebody has come up with that Bernsie is jumping on board with: SIERA, I believe it was.

    I want to see somebody come up the BULLSHAT stat and see what Bernsie thinks of it.

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      Sounds good. What does the acronym stand for?

      • Chris in Scottsdale


        I can hear Daron Sutton and Mark Grace during our DBack Broadacasts now…
        “I gotta tell ya, Gracie, This guy’s BULLSHAT rate is among the highest in the league among LOOGY’s.”

  • Chitownduck

    We got a coach in this city that is actually good and shows the fire and the passion. OMG!!!…..Thank you Ditka gods. I can’t wait to go to Tom Thibodeau’s Steak House in about 10 years.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    I think repetitive, high-pressure work with the absence of (or failure to progress toward) a long term goal can certainly put people at risk for burnout (and worse), but I don’t think that of Thibs or the Bulls fit that description.

    There was maybe a whiff of garbage time toward the end of last night’s game, but more than anything just the impression that the Bulls aren’t willing to spend any time on the court establishing bad habits, not improving, or not competing. Like Pete Rose (yeah, that sounds right) never wasting an at bat in a game that was already out of hand, it seems that Thibs isn’t going to waste a second of a ballgame that could be used to prepare. Besides, It’s probably more important to stand on the gas/your opponent’s throat (pick you cliche) in basketball, where seemingly massive leads can evaporate without sustained effort, than in most other sports.

  • Danial Ramirez

    It is so much fun to watch a coach who knows the x and o’s of the game and can pinpoint exactly what’s lacking and what adjutments needed to be when the team isn’t executing the way that it should be. You didn’t see that under Del Negro and it’s absolutely refreshing to watch under Thibodeau. Optimism is good as long as it’s tempered. If this team can consistently defend, it won’t matter that they’re not the most sexiest team in the tournament. If they continue to play together and execute as well as they’re executing now, they have a legit of shot of winning the East.

  • Larry Jones

    All I know is at the beginning of the season Berstein picked Wall over Rose.

    • bigtime sucker

      interesting, picked wall for what? as a better player? i actually think there is a concesus that wall is a better talent, but i don’t think wall has that extra ingrediant that rose posseses, you know the win or die trying approach to basketball. remember rose took a lottery team and turned it into a playoff team the next year, wall seems to be content on the state of the wizards. he isn’t doing anything to make them better, so i take rose despite walls amazing physical gifts

      • bigtime sucker

        in other words, wall has yet to learn how to apply his talent. Rose came in and pretty much by mid season of his rookie year, figured out how to apply his talent, figured it out more last year and this year has figured out more. the scary thing, he probably has a few more things to figure out. the only issue with rose is length of career. how long can he sustain his near reckless abandon

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        If memory serves, Bernstein was referring to raw physical ability. Wall is bigger, and he looked stronger and faster than Rose did coming out of college. I sort of wondered myself if there would be a period of time where Rose would be considered the top PG in the league, considering Deron Williams and Chris Paul are still in their prime and I assumed Wall would be ascendant… but that’s also because I had no idea that Rose would take the step forward that he has this year. I mean, we knew he would be better, and he was considered a top-15 player… but nobody in their right mind had him in the MVP conversation back in October, did they?

        Wall could end up being better than Rose, but it is yet to be seen if he’s as nasty as Rose… in terms of getting indignant if you beat him. We’ve seen two consecutive teams that came back from big deficits to beat the Boo’ earlier in the year get hammered… and more specifically Rose’s work on Hinrich was just filthy.

        Derrick Rose spits nails. Combine the mentality with the abillity, and you have the potential heir to Kobe in terms of “Prime-time player”. Is LeBron a better “player”? Yes, but his resolve is obviously suspect. Rose wants to beat you… and if you beat him, he wants to POUND you the next time he sees you. I have no doubt LeBron wants to win, but he’s not proven that he’s willing to shoulder the burden.

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      This has been brought up on the show and Bernstein has admitted he was wrong. He also recently conceded he appears to have been wrong about Hansbrough. I understand why people take joy in pointing out when Dan’s wrong, but to his credit he generally owns up to it when it happens.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        It’s because people get their rocks off from pointing out when someone smarter than they are is wrong, especially when they can come across as a jerk. I’m a big fan, but even I can see some days where he’s just looking to verbally bash someone. Occasionally it’s fun, but sometimes it just causes me to click on Pandora.

        Bernstein is obviously a smart guy, but he’s also abrasive and occasionally so closed-minded that he just gets outright nasty with callers. Sometimes he handles it well, like the first caller last Friday that he gave practically the whole opening segment to, and was civil in breaking down the guy’s argument. Other times it’s no fun, especially when he gets outright dismissive.

    • Tox

      I wouldn’t put that much stock in Bernstein’s picks. Bernstein is a sabermetrician, his line of thinking is to a fault, solely by the numbers and Rose’s height translates to less productivity. The problem with being such a stat head is it doesn’t allow for the anomily, which is what makes sports great in my opinion. Not many predicted Rose, Thibs and the Bulls being so good. Nobody predicted the Sox going on a massize run last season. The Bears getting to the NFC title game. The Colorado Rockies getting to the World Series a few years back. The anomily is what makes sports so damn exciting and every once in a while something, someone, some team can surprise you and make you throw the stat sheets out the window.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Sorry; my first sentence was a little vague. My point was that anybody who thinks stats don’t allow for anomalies doesn’t understand stats. It was a general comment not necessarily directed at you or Dan, but rather my attempt to distinguish between criticizing sabermetrics and criticizing the misuse of sabermetrics.

      • Tox

        Why can’t I claim that and understand stats? I wasn’t talking about baseball prospectus failing to recognize outliers, of course showing a percentage of a probability to not rule out an outlier is the rational thing to do. Projections can’t be absolute. However, I was talking about Bernstein’s approach to such a topic, especially when speaking to a stubborn listener. Bernstein speaks in absolutes, then owns up to it later after he’s wrong, actually the whole cycle is very entertaining.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Anybody who claims that doesn’t actually understand stats. Sabermetrics absolutely allow for anomalies; that’s why Baseball Prospectus issues “projections” rather than predictions. If you ever read their individual projections they’re weighted. They may give a player a 30% probability of hitting .280, a 10% probability of hitting .300 and a two-percent probability of hitting .320. In fact, that’s the whole point of sabermetrics: using the available data to project possible future performance. But just because sabermetrics can’t predict an outlier doesn’t mean it fails to recognize outliers.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        What’s an anomily?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Bernsie not POing everyone would be an anomaly.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Exactly LHA.

  • Larry

    In Derrick Rose, Bulls fans are treated to a rare combination.
    An athlete with:
    (1) Supreme physicl gifts;
    (2) Incredible self-motivation-works his behind off in the off season. His ability to hit the 3-pointer can make himm unguardable at times; and
    (3) Coachability. He does’t use items (1) and (2) to ignore his coach as many of his peers do. He always wants to get better.
    We should cherish Rose’s time with the Bulls. He has pushed himself to become better than all of us could have expected.


    There is no comparison between current Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau and former head coach Vinny Del Negro. I guarantee you that VDN wouldn’t have gotten in the face of Derrick Rose as much as Thibodeau did in the 1st quarter of last night’s 118-81 Bulls’ mauling of the Hawks last night at Atlanta’s Philips Arena and on the Bulls’ favorite national cable channel TNT to boot. It certainly got Rose’s attention as #1 in white & red scored 30 with 10 assists in only 3 quarters of work, complete with more “MVP! MVP!” chants among a lot of Bulls’ fans in attendance. The Bulls have a couple days before another back-to-back this weekend. The Bulls host a Grizzlies’ team that will not have Rudy Gay the rest of the way due to shoulder surgery Friday night at United Center and a rematch vs. the injury-ravaged Bucks in Milwaukee’s Bradley Center Saturday night. Quite frankly, I’m really enjoying not only watching this Bulls’ team and the continuing development of D.Rose, but seeing Thibs on the sidelines know what he’s doing in his first of what should be many seasons as the Bulls’ head coach.

  • Tox

    Yes, the Bulls are great……win…..defense…..killer mentality…..unselfish……Benny the Bull……etc..

    Wouldn’t Coach Thibs make an awesome Penguin? Give the guy a top hat, a monocle and a poisnous gas filled quellazaire and cast him in the next Dark Knight movie.


    Thibs is folowing the career burnout path of Skiles, Better win it now because he will be with a new team in 2 more years. Bellieve it. Coaches who last are the Popo’s and Jacksons, this stuff tends to wear thin on millionaires



    Leave VDN out of it. You can’t compare Take away Boozer , Korver Asik, Thomas and Brewer and give him Flip Murray and Hakim Warrick and let’s see 41 wins. Just because the guy is hyper doesn’t mean he wont burn out. VDN chances of llasting longer in this profession might be greater

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Not comparable, Drake. Thibs is instilling a greater sense of greatness for this year, and I truly believe he was the wherewithal to be able to “bring it back” after his message has been sent. Right now is not the time to bring it back; win a championship, and we’ll see a much different coaching style in the future from the 2011 coach of the year…

  • ToddH

    I agree Drake. I’ve been saying that all season. As long as they are winning the players will love Thibs. As soon as they have a losing season or two he will be out there door.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    LSD appears to be the favorite… I’m all for that but watch out for CMB and NDSS…

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    […] Bernstein: Thibodeau Gets In Rose’s Face By Dan Bernstein– […]

  • Bob Loblaw

    Where the hell are today’s podcasts? I’ve read this blog twice now dammit! Get on the ball WSCR!!!!

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