ST. LOUIS -- Rick Majerus was the type of man -- and coach -- who seemed to leave an impact wherever he went. Everybody who came into contact with the veteran coach seems to have a story or some words to say about the man who passed away last December due to heart failure after spending most of his life working in basketball. Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau -- like so many others -- was happy to get to know Majerus before he passed.
With the Bulls working out and watching tape at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of St. Louis University -- the last school at which Majerus served as coach before his death -- Thibodeau was asked about his relationship with the entertaining coach.
"I got to know him well probably about four years ago," Thibodeau said. "Through Jay Hillock, one of our scouts. Just a great guy, a great coach and I just had a great friendship with him. I admired all things he did, what he stood for -- he lived life to the fullest. And anyone who was around him, any time you’re around him, it was special."
Next stop, Rio: After the Bulls face off against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night in St. Louis, the team's next game will be Saturday night against the Washington Wizards in Rio. It's a trip that Thibodeau is trying not to view as a distraction -- just the next step in a progression for his team as it gets ready to start the season at the end of October.
"To me, this is getting ready for the season," Thibodeau said. "Whatever the circumstances that you have that are in front of you, you have to handle and handle them well. We have a week of training camp and then we hit the road. We’ll focus in on the game (Monday), then we have the trip (to Rio). I like being on the road early. I think it does give you opportunities to team-build. But the most important thing is to get your foundation set, build the right habits and keep improving."
Rose's minutes not a concern: Speaking of improving, Thibodeau liked what he saw from star point guard Derrick Rose in his return to the floor Saturday night -- but don't expect Rose's minutes to go up much over the next week or so. Thibodeau admitted that Rose was upset after being pulled in the third quarter of Saturday's game against the Indiana Pacers, but Rose is still expected to play around 20 minutes or so against the Grizzlies. Thibodeau wants to raise Rose's minutes incrementally, like the rest of the starting rotation.
"That would be the case even if he weren’t coming off injury," Thibodeau said of Rose. "I think with all the starters, you look at the entire month as your training camp. They’re not playing starter’s minutes yet, but we’ll gradually build up and whatever he can handle, he’ll get. But just whatever you’re doing, put everything you have into it. You’re not only getting him ready, you’re getting the entire team ready -- we have to get our bench ready. I think the important thing is for everybody just to continue to focus in on making a commitment to the team, put everything you have into each and every day and strive for improvement."