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Tom Thibodeau is a proponent of fierce rivalries

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau calls for substitutisecond quarter Chicago Bulls-SacramenKings NBA game Wednesday October 31 2012 United Center. |

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau calls for a substitution in the second quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Sacramento Kings NBA game Wednesday October 31, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 2, 2012 2:20PM

One of the biggest criticisms lobbed at the NBA the last few years has been that there’s way too much fraternizing among opposing players.

Whether it was Chris Paul having out-of-town players staying at his pad or LeBron James having Kevin Durant as a workout partner last summer, the days of the “Bad Boys’’ mauling the Bulls seemed long gone. Reggie Miller and the Knicks? A distant memory.

That was until Tuesday night, when the Celtics and Heat couldn’t hide their mutual disdain. And Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loved every minute of it.

“I love competition,’’ Thibodeau said. “Like fierce competitors. To me, I’ll watch those games all day. When you get two quality opponents going at each other, there’s nothing better than that. Whether it’s low-scoring, high-scoring, medium-scoring, you love to see fierce competitors.’’

Thibodeau was an assistant coach for the Celtics in their 2008 championship run and was asked about Heat guard Ray Allen getting the cold shoulder from former teammate Kevin Garnett.

“Interesting, not surprising,’’ Thibodeau said. “Those guys have a long history. They won a title together, knew each other since high school. They’ll work things out.’’

Pippen now on board

The Bulls announced before the opener Wednesday against the Kings that Scottie Pippen was named senior adviser to the president and COO of the team.

Pippen played 12 seasons with the Bulls, helping them to six NBA titles. In 2010, Pippen was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Scottie’s talents and unique experience allow him to add value to so many aspects of our organization, and we wanted his title to better reflect his role with the Bulls,’’ Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement.

Work in progress

Thibodeau was still unsure about his bench rotation, but at least in the opener, he went five deep.

Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed and Jimmy Butler saw minutes in the first half against Sacramento.

“We’ll see how it unfolds,’’ Thibodeau said. “Everyone has a role. You base everything on performance.’’

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