Tom Thibodeau to coach East at ASG
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is going to Disney World. But don't expect to see him on Space Mountain.
Thibodeau will coach the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla.
The veteran coach, and his staff, locked up the honor after the Bulls' 121-115 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
"It's more a testament and a byproduct of what our team has done," Thibodeau said after the game. "Anytime you can participate in anything like that, it's always good. It's an honor and I look forward to it."
The Bulls have an Eastern Conference leading 24-7 record and Thibodeau now has an 86-27 regular season record during his year and a half with the Bulls. While Thibodeau has tried to downplay the honor over the past week, his players know how much it means to him.
"I know that that's something that he'd (like) the honor of doing, coaching that game" Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said last week. "But if he's coach and I'm on the team, I'd love it."
Will there be phonebook-size playbooks and two-hour film sessions? Doubtful, said first-time All-Star Luol Deng.
"I don't know what practice is going to be like," Deng said. "But I doubt it's going to be like our practices."
Joakim Noah wondered if his coach was going to bring his typical intensity to Orlando.
"I just hope those guys don't have to do defensive slides and close-outs in the All-Star Game," Noah said. "I hope he takes it easy on those guys."
Deng said he's extremely happy to spend his vacation with Thibodeau.
"I'm thrilled man," he said. "The whole coaching staff works so hard. Anytime you want to go to the gym and get shots up, those guys are there for you. I'm just happy for them. They deserve it."
Thibodeau has coached as an assistant in the All-Star Game before, under Doc Rivers in Boston and Jeff Van Gundy in New York.
"Well, he's a great coach, but he's worked at it," Rivers said earlier this week in Boston. "I think he's worked on a lot of things. We talk a lot, and I think you guys know that. He's worked on coaching and he's worked on personalities, too."
Despite the jokes about his coach's hard-charging ways, Deng said he thinks Thibodeau will relax and enjoy his time in Orlando. Still, he likes the idea of Thibodeau playing LeBron James 48 minutes.
"I think he should," Deng said with a smile. "Hopefully he does."
When asked if he was going to start watching film of the Western Conference All-Stars, Thibodeau laughed.
"I'm just worried about Boston," he said of the team's next opponent. "When we get there, I'll worry about that."
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com. Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.