Ex-Harvard coach Thibodeau a fan of Lin

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau knew about Jeremy Lin long before the rest of the basketball world. That's because Thibodeau, who coached at Harvard early in his career, kept his ear to the Crimson pipeline and heard good things about the former Harvard star and current New York Knicks phenom.

"It's interesting because I coached at Harvard a long time ago," Thibodeau said after Wednesday's practice. "And a number of players there had told me about him during his career and of course coaching in Boston I sort of followed him a little bit. It is an amazing story, and he's done an incredible job, so I'm happy for him."

Like his players, Thibodeau can appreciate Lin's success because of the way the young point guard worked even when people tried to write him off.

"I think people knew about him," Thibodeau said. "He was on a few teams. He did well in the summer league his rookie year and sometimes a guy just needs an opportunity. I think he's gotten better along with his experience, and he's in a good situation. I think Mike D'Antoni is a terrific coach, and he's used him extremely well."

Bulls' forward Carlos Boozer is just one of many players around the NBA who can appreciate the types of hurdles that Lin has had to overcome to prove he belongs in the league.

"He's playing great," Boozer said. "They're winning. He's doing a great job Taking advantage of his opportunity, making a lot of shots, making their team go right now. I've been impressed."

From a distance, it's clear Thibodeau appreciates Lin's work ethic. Not only does Thibodeau like the Harvard connection, but he is happy for a kid who made the most out of the chance he was given.

"I think it's a combination of everything," Thibodeau said. "I think in this league, you have to show it all the time. It's a testament to him being ready. When he got the opportunity, he made the most of it."

Line of the day: "I told him he should sit me and Derrick out in practice and have them practice hard. That would be fun." -- Luol Deng, on discussing All-Star strategy with Thibodeau, who will coach the East team.

Line of the day, Part II: "I think if you're a championship caliber team you approach it that way. And that's what you shoot for. I think these players are not here by accident. We went after them because of their makeup." -- Thibodeau, on if he's ever been around a more focused group.