TELANDER: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau prefers to be vague
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org February 2, 2013 1:32AM
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
NEW YORK — It’s not my fault multiple starters for the Bulls are injured.
It’s not yours, either. Blame the sport or the floor or whatever.
I’m sorry Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were out for this first-ever visit to Brooklyn and the spanking new Barclays Center. I’m even sorry backup center Vladimir Radmanovic has a tweaked something or other.
And, of course, who isn’t sorry Derrick Rose is still rehabbing that torn ACL?
But please — PLEASE — let’s have some dignity here.
When we ask you, coach Tom Thibodeau, about those injuries, do not — DO NOT — go into Orwell-speak.
Noah’s injury? It’s his foot?
‘‘Lower body, yeah.’’
Dissecting the human anatomy in half? Like it’s a rectangle?
Maybe it was from being here in this feisty New York borough, but I just felt compelled not to let that go.
Politicians can call their receptionists ‘‘directors of first impressions,’’ and military guys can call night parachuting ‘‘nocturnal vertical insertion.’’ But we must not have this from our basketball coaches.
So I said, per my tape: ‘‘Tom, I haven’t heard. I mean, I haven’t been around, but that much ‘lower body’ in the NBA. We hear it in the NFL, I mean, NHL. I’m serious, is that the way we’re going? Lower body, upper body?’’
Thibs with a look of annoyance.
‘’Uh, yeah, he’s nicked up,’’ says the coach. ‘‘I guess lower body, foot, I don’t know.’
‘‘Is there a reason for it?’’ I persist. Meaning the verbiage. Not the injury.
Real annoyed. Looking away as if this reporter did not — does not yet — exist.
‘‘Nah,’’ croaks Thibodeau. Pause. ‘‘Just … the way I like to do it.’’
Beat guys tell me Thibs has used the dreaded ‘‘lower body/upper body’’ designation in the recent past, even last season.
Well, I never heard it. And I don’t want to hear it now. Not in basketball.
What are foes going to do, secretly kick you in the gonads if you have a groin injury? Run you into the boards if your shoulder is bad?
Can’t we all agree that this is where we make a stand, hoops fans?
If Thibodeau was upset that his starting lineup had Taj Gibson, Nate Robinson, and Nazr Mohammed in it, and there were only four healthy guys on his bench, sorry. And then in the third quarter, Luol Deng seemed to slightly hurt his left, uh, lower body (shhh, hamstring or knee), so even more sorry-ness.
And Thibs got T-ed up for ranting at the ref, and it was indeed depressing to see the 6-9, 225-pound Gibson guarding 7-foot, 265-pound Nets All-Star center Brook Lopez.
So sorry the Bulls lost 93-89.
But no more with the words. OK?
Or else we could have a pre-emptive situational exchange of views with extreme prejudice.
Know what I’m sayin’?