DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Carlos Boozer and his teammates do not always enjoy listening to Tom Thibodeau. The veteran coach can be gruff and his message can be delivered with so much anger that if players look closely enough they could probably see smoke coming out of his ears. Thibodeau's style can grate on players' nerves but beneath any frustration they have there has always been one key characteristic that gets them through the toughest practices or Thibodeau tantrums: Respect.
The Bulls may not always agree with the way their coach delivers a message, but they always respect the man who delivers it because of the work ethic he has displayed since coming to Chicago.
"I get to the gym about two hours before practice," Boozer said after Saturday's practice. "(Thibodeau's) car is already outside, his light's already on in his office. He's very strategic and everything he does is calculated. What I'm saying is he puts a lot of thought into his practice plan, a lot of thought into his game plan, and he's been successful that way so that's also part of the reason why we trust him because he puts the time in. When you have a guy that puts as much time in as Thibs, you should trust him."
As a veteran in the league, Boozer knows the respect Thibodeau is shown is based on the fact he has racked up 112 regular-season wins during his first two years on the job.
"I think respect comes with success," Boozer said. "In this league, it's a win business. If you establish yourself as a player, you get respect. If you establish yourself as a winning coach, you get respect. If you don't, then that respect may not always be there. I've heard stories from other teams where guys don't listen to the coach because they have more experience than the coach has. On this team, Thibs has been a part of a lot of great teams as an assistant, but coming in his first year he won (62) games. Last year in a shortened season we won 50. One of the two teams to do that last year. We're able to see the success in the time he puts in. He demands (players') respect because we win. I think when you have a coach that puts the time in and puts you in position to be successful and win, you give him respect."
Boozer, who played for Hall of Fame coaches Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz, sees similarities between his new coach and his old one.
"And then you have other coaches like coach Sloan, I had him in Utah, that (won) for so many years, had so many winning seasons, playoff appearances, a couple of Finals' appearances," he continued. "And (Michael Jordan and the Bulls) stopped him from winning a championship, but he gets that respect because he was so successful. Tom, eventually, he'll have 20 years in coaching and a few championships hopefully. I think guys will walk in the gym and respect him like the same way we respected coach Sloan, but right now it's the beginning stages."
The Bulls' power forward also understands that it's up to him and the rest of the group that has been around Thibodeau to prepare his new teammates for the demanding coach's system.
"For us, this is our third year together, this group, so we've seen our success," Boozer said. "Through his system, through his practice schedule, through his days off, through his regimen, and we've had success the last two years so we trust (his program) because we've reaped the benefits of that success. We tell the new guys that are coming in, our rookies, and some of the vets that have been around, some of them are coming from losing programs to be quite frank. This is one of the first times to be on a winning team ... there's some guys that have been through it and some guys that we have new that haven't been through it so we just tell them to keep working. Every time you come in, just be focused and it will pay off in the long run."
Boozer doesn't have any doubts that Thibodeau will get this new group of reserves to play at the same high level he did the last two years. While the personnel isn't the same, the message is. Thibodeau doesn't change -- and it's the type of quality that Boozer has come to appreciate.
"The thing that Tom talked to us about every training camp is 'Begin with the end in mind,' " Boozer said. "Our end goal is to put a banner up. So the work we do know will pay off later if we put everything into it. And (the new guys) are taking heed to that."