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Doug Collins’ ties to Bulls run deep, but he’d love to win series

Updated: May 30, 2012 8:33AM

Doug Collins calls Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf one of his best friends. He says vice president John Paxson is “like a son to me.” He considers the Bulls a special organization and Chicago a special place.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ coach also admits he would like nothing more than to knock the team he once coached out of the playoffs. That’s a possibility after Derrick Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Bulls’ 103-91 victory Saturday at the United Center.

“It would be one of my greatest thrills,” Collins said before the game.

Collins coached Michael Jordan and the Bulls for three seasons before being fired in 1989. The longtime broadcaster also coached the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards before being hired by the 76ers last season.

The former Illinois State standout coached the Sixers to their first winning season since 2004-05 this year.

“This is a very special city,” Collins said. “They have embraced me. I don’t have any championship rings. Jerry has given me six championship watches [along with] great notes that I have kept very proudly. When I walk down the street — I haven’t been here since ’89 — bus drivers are honking and waving and the fans just saying how much they appreciated my time here.

“I love this city. It’s going to be interesting. I’m sure they’re not going to be lovely to me [Saturday], but it’s a very special place for me.”

Mutual admiration

Collins believes Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau deserves to be the first NBA coach to win back-to-back coach of the year awards.

“Thibs is a great coach,” Collins said. “I told Jerry this the other day and Pax: To me, he should be the coach of the year again. This year, with what they’ve had, with their losses to injuries, to be where they are with the best record in the Eastern Conference [is impressive].

“There are no bells and whistles. They are going to defend, they are going to play tough, they are going to play team ball and they have depth.”

The respect is mutual.

“He’s not only a great coach but a great guy,” Thibodeau said of Collins. “He’s done it a long time. The guy is very, very talented in whatever he’s doing, whether he’s coaching, he was a great player and he’s great on TV. He’s terrific. I have a lot of respect for him and all the things he has done.”

The energizer

The Bulls outrebounded the Sixers 47-38, thanks in large part to Joakim Noah, who had 12 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks.

“He’s awesome, man,” Carlos Boozer said of Noah. “I don’t know how that guy didn’t make the All-Star Game. He gave us great energy and offensive rebounding. He had a great dunk in the first quarter that got us all hyped. He’s been playing with great passion his whole career, and today was no different.”

Collins has a great deal of respect for Noah and the Bulls’ rebounding ability, which is why he started Lavoy Allen at center. Spencer Hawes started most of the season at center but has been excelling while sharing the floor with Thaddeus Young. So Collins went with Allen, who had four points and six rebounds.

Choice words

Tempers flared in the third quarter when Evan Turner got his arms tangled with Carlos Boozer, resulting in players from both teams having words near center court. Rose and Rip Hamilton were called for technical fouls, as was ex-Bull Elton Brand.

“That’s basketball,” Boozer said. “That happens on the street, it happens in pick-up games, it happens everywhere. It’s not a big deal.”

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