CHICAGO | Covering Tom Thibodeau's press conferences is like having an ill friend at the hospital and watching them slowly slip away.
Thibodeau's pre and postgame media chats have grown shorter, less informative and more defiant. The Bulls' season, frustrating and disappointing, has made it almost impossible for him to smile, even faintly.
Coaching this team has become a living nightmare.
If I was a mind reader, I'd swear Thibodeau is saying: “End this misery! Get me outta here!”
Saturday night's game with the division-leading Pacers offered little relief as Thibodeau stepped outside his team's dressing room and into the glare of TV cameras and pushy reporters.
Is everyone available tonight, coach?
“Let's see. Kirk (Hinrich) is good. Taj (Gibson) is good. Rip (Hamilton) out. Derrick (Rose) out. And ... (Joakim) Noah out,” Thibodeau replied.
The Bulls' lone bright spot and most consistent player, UNAVAILABLE?
That's like Easter without chocolate.
“Sore foot,” Thibodeau said, dryly.
Any concern it could be a lengthy rehab?
“Day to day,” Thibodeau said.
Who starts in place of Noah against the Pacers?
“We've got a few guys,” Thibodeau said. “Still undecided.”
This is the all-business, dullard coach Bulls' fans and media have gotten to know, reluctantly.
True, this might be his toughest season ever. But if a coach is a reflection of his team, “Thibs” better lighten up before the Bulls sink into a deep depression and find themselves on a couch, sharing their angst.
The loss of Noah, with two bad feet much of his pro career, cripples the team's confidence even more.
“He's had an All-Star season,” Thibodeau said. “He's done a great job for us, but we've got more than enough. Next man up. Get out there and get the job done.”
Listen to this guy. Why not just hand out a prepared statement?
Cliches. Cliches. Cliches. Like a dazed boxer barely able to stand, Thibodeau has been reduced to babbling cliches.
He says he's been through trying seasons with such superstars as Kevin Garnett in Boston, Yao Ming in Houston and Patrick Ewing in New York. So this nothing new for him.
“You're challenged with making the best of those circumstances,” Thibodeau said. “You have to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your team and figure out what gives your team the best chance at winning.”
With the Bulls, it's a healthy Rose and Noah.
“We have to keep grinding and finding a way to win,” said Thibodeau, offering us another cliche. “You don't want to change your approach. Our attitude and approach have to be consistent.”
Having dropped six of their last eight prior to Saturday's game is not the consistency you want.
No one but Rose knows when he'll return from knee surgery as all of Chicago holds its collective breath.
Noah had been averaging 14.7 points, 12.4 rebounds and shooting 58 percent in his last 10 games.
Yet, Thibodeau remains positive through this mess of a season. Or else he's the next Daniel Day-Lewis when it comes to acting.
I'm thinking the latter.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.