DENVER -- George Karl is like the rest of the people in the NBA these days. After watching the success Tom Thibodeau enjoyed the last few seasons with the Chicago Bulls, the veteran coach can't figure out why it took so long for Thibodeau to get his first head coaching job.
"Why are you asking me?" the Denver Nuggets coach said Wednesday. "You should ask the personnel directors, the general managers, man."
"I think Tom's the type of guy, personality-wise, when you hang around him, he's kind of boring and quiet and he's not flamboyant and has that clever personality that sometimes gravitates people to certain people,” he said. “Tom's a basketball guy. He's a gym guy. He's an X and O guy. He's a film-room guy. He doesn't have the celebrity personality that maybe draws attention to some personnel guys that make those decisions."
Whatever the reason, Karl -- like most coaches around the league -- has a lot of respect for the job Thibodeau has done in Chicago.
"He reminds me of coaching a Van Gundy-type team," Karl said. "They're very, very, very disciplined. They're very execute-oriented and they're very defensive-minded. There's not a lot of nonsense out there. There's not a lot of lazy basketball. There's some pretty serious basketball going on for most of the basketball game. It's an effort game. You've got to match their energy; it's fun to have a challenge like that.”
"It reminds me of how I felt when I coached a [Pat] Riley team or a [Jerry] Sloan team,” he said. “A team that's very, very efficient, very, very disciplined and they hang around. You're not going to beat this team by a big number. You've got to beat them, but you usually don't beat them by a big number."
The respect is mutual. The coaches chatted between shootaround and seem to enjoy watching the other coach.
"I think he's one of the great coaches in this league," Thibodeau said of Karl. "To do it the way he's done it for all these years, it tells you how good he is. And he always finds a way, no matter what team he has; whether it was Seattle, Milwaukee, [Denver], it's always the same.”
“His teams play hard and they're going to play unselfishly,” he said. “He has his own style of play and I just love the way he is as a guy, too. What you see is what you get. He's true to himself. I think he's a great teacher. And to have the success that he's had throughout his career, that says everything."
To Karl, the Bulls are one of the most dangerous teams in the East, in large part due to some of Thibodeau's schemes.
He called Chicago “maybe the most efficient team in basketball."
"They play both ends of the court at a very high dedication and they execute very well,” Karl said. “I think they're going to try and keep the pace of the game down. If they get healthy, and they get [Derrick] Rose back and they get [Joakim] Noah back, they're going to be very much a top-two or three team in the Eastern Conference."
So can they win the Eastern Conference?
"If Derrick Rose comes back healthy, I think there's a chance," Karl said. "They were playing last year at a very high level before he got hurt. I'm always going to give the champs the benefit of the doubt. I would say if they would get back healthy, I think they would probably be the second most dangerous team to Miami in the East."