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Tom Thibodeau: Doc Rivers can handle heat of Donald Sterling situation

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Updated: April 27, 2014 10:52PM



WASHINGTON — One day after staying clear of the Donald Sterling controversy because he first “wanted to hear what was said,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t hold back Sunday.

Sterling, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, has been the eye of the storm since TMZ released a tape allegedly of Sterling making racist comments to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano.

“It’s disappointing, and it’s sad and it’s very unfortunate for our league,” Thibodeau said. “Our league has been at the forefront for diversity and equality for everybody, so it’s very disappointing.

“Personally, with my relationship with [Clippers coach] Doc [Rivers], I feel badly for him because I know the amount of work that he has put into preparing that team. But I’m also very glad that he’s the guy there that’s running that organization. I think that’s important for our league.”

Thibodeau said that he had texted back and forth with Rivers and planned to talk to him soon.

He also was asked about the owner he works for, Jerry Reinsdorf, who has been on the forefront of minority hires with the Bulls and White Sox.

“We’re fortunate,” Thibodeau said. “We have a great owner. I know what he has meant to our team and our organization. I feel he has done the same with the White Sox. But I think the NBA in general, it’s been at the forefront. I think that’s one of the things that makes our league so great. That part is really disappointing. But as I said, I’m glad Doc is the guy that’s there to handle it. Because he will.”

The good ol’ days

Wizards coach Randy Wittman clearly wasn’t thrilled with the NBA’s decision to suspend Nene for Game 4

“Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter what my thoughts are,” he said.

What he did have a strong opinion on, however, was the physicality of the game now compared to when he played from 1983 to ’92. Basically, the “Bad Boys” era.

“Not even close,” Witt­man said of the game today. “It’s like sixth-grade flag football compared to NFL tackle football.”

When asked which one he preferred, he said, “Well, I only played it one way, so I haven’t been associated from a player’s standpoint of playing it this way. Guys got to learn to play with what the rules are, and that’s what it boils down to more than anything.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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