MJ or LeBron? Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau needs conclusive evidence
By Seth Gruen For Sun-Times Media October 22, 2012 8:58PM
Carlos Boozer is going through his first full training camp with the Bulls. He broke his right hand in camp in 2010, and the players were locked out in 2011. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 24, 2012 6:19AM
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was an assistant with the Knicks when Michael Jordan was the NBA’s alpha male, and, more recently, he has experienced LeBron James’ dominance.
Comparing the two after practice Monday, Thibodeau, of course, used a defensive perspective.
“Jordan kept so much pressure on you in so many different ways, and it’s a different game now than it was,” Thibodeau said. “Back then, it was a lot more physical than it is today. But you couldn’t play zone defense the way you can today.
“Not being able to be as physical hurts you some. When Jordan was playing, you could play a lot more physical. He took a beating.
“Great players take beatings, but it was probably to an extreme in the ’90s.”
Thibodeau acknowledged the six Jordan championships tilt the argument in his favor. But with James entering his prime, he held off on making a final conclusion.
“Those types of comparisons are tough to make because I don’t think you can do it until LeBron’s done,” Thibodeau said. “So to speculate now, I guess it makes for interesting conversation, but you have to wait.”
Backup center Nazr Mohammed says the Bulls eventually will have one of the league’s best defenses, but they aren’t up to standard yet.
“We’ve had sections of the game where we’ve played unbelievable defense,” Mohammed said. “We’ve locked teams down.
“We’re definitely one of the better defensive teams in the league, but we’re not as good as we’re going to be as the season goes on.”
Thibodeau grinned when asked whether forward Carlos Boozer was benefitting from his first full training camp as a Bull.
Before the lockout-shortened season, Boozer broke his right hand during training camp in 2010.
“That’s a good point,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a good pro. So I’ve never really had a problem with the way he prepares.”