DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn't classify a matchup with the Boston Celtics as extra special for him, but there's little doubt the bond between him and the organization -- along with coach Doc Rivers -- exists.
"Anytime you win a championship with somebody it ties you together forever," said Thibodeau, who was an assistant on Rivers' staff when they won a title in 2008. "He's (Doc) been a good friend for a long time."
Thibodeau and Rivers, whose teams meet Monday night at the United Center, have stayed tight despite being ultra-competitive.
"We talk basketball all the time except when we're getting ready to play each other then we talk other stuff," Thibodeau said. "I knew he'd be fired up about the Bears. He loves the Bears. He was excited about the game (Sunday night). I didn't talk to him after the game but we talked more about that than basketball."
Asked Monday at Celtics practice if Thibodeau is picking up the tab more now that he signed his contract extension, Rivers joked: "Nah, he's still cheap as hell. I'm trying to get him to buy a place here instead of renting. But, he tips now. That's a first step, one step at a time."
But when it comes to coaching, Rivers knows Chicago has a good one. There's little doubt in his mind the Bulls have taken on the identity of its head coach.
"I say that all the time, I hope every coach's team takes on their identity or something's not right," Rivers said. "Unless the best player is that good where they take on that player's identity. In this case, I think the team has clearly taken Thibs' identity, and Derrick (Rose's) for the most part. But I think it's with Thibs' leadership. I think he sets the tone, and he didn't let them give in. And to me, that's the value of Thibs."
Thibodeau said come game time their friendship takes a backseat.
"I know how competitive he is," Thibodeau said. "I know the make-up of his team. We wish him well, but not tonight."