DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose wants to dispel one thing right away -- the perception that new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is just a mild-mannered man who watches a lot of tape and doesn't say much.
Yes, he watches a lot of tape, there's no debating that. But people who think he just keeps to himself, just don't understand.
"Man, if you don't talk, he'll talk for like two or three hours," Rose said with a laugh after practice on Tuesday afternoon. "So you've got to shorten your conversation with him real quick. You got to come up with a good lie or something. Have one of your friends call you and say you got to go pick him up or something ... he'll talk to you for hours."
Rose was kidding, kind of. The 21 year-old point guard seems to enjoy working with the first-time head coach, but it's clear that fans and players alike still have a lot to learn about Thibodeau, aside from the correct pronunciation of his last name. (Note: The "H" is not silent. It's Thib-bo-DOUGH). The longtime NBA assistant got his first chance to change people's perceptions on Tuesday as he conducted his inaugural training camp practice as head coach. It was a day the 52-year-old dreamed of for years.
"It was great," Thibodeau said. "I actually couldn't wait to get started. The guys have put a lot of work in. They're focused and they're motivated, so [I'm] pleased with the effort. We have a lot of things to clean up, but it was a good first day."
After spending the summer raving about their new coach's attention to detail, Thibodeau's players said the same thing.
"He studies the game," Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer said. "He knows the game through and through. He's very intense, he's into it. He's a teacher and that was exciting for all of us. We're all getting taught at the same time -- our system. We're all coming from different places, there are only a couple guys here who were on the Bulls last year but they were coached by somebody else.
"A couple guys from Utah, a couple guys from teams around the league, so we're getting used to our new system. This is our system. We're not running the Bulls system from past years. We're running the Bulls system from this 2010-2011 season. So it's exciting for us all to get taught at the same time."
‘Teacher’ is the word that bounced off the Berto Center walls when players were asked to describe their new coach. Thibodeau developed a reputation as a tactician and a great communicator through countless hours in the gym before camp began on Tuesday. Throughout the course of Tuesday’s practices, he could be seen breaking down different players’ games and working with them individually. His practices are going to be methodically charted out, which his players noticed quickly.
"Just laying down laws," Rose said of the message Thibodeau relayed to the team during its first meeting earlier in the week. "Just making sure that everybody is here for the right reason, holding everybody accountable when they're on the court. Just making sure that we get familiar with each other where we can talk to each other on and off the court so that nobody will get mad if somebody comes up to a player and is like, ‘Come on, man. Get it together.’ But you got to learn how to talk to players in different ways because people take stuff in different ways."
Thibodeau has made a career out of doing just that. One of the biggest reasons the Bulls felt confident in hiring him was that he has the ability to connect with all kinds of players. It's a major reason why he was credited with so much success as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. Don't expect him to break out his championship ring any time, though. He wants to focus on the future, not the past.
"That was then, this is now," he said. "We want to build championship-type habits. We're striving to become a championship-caliber team. It's a lot of, like, rhetoric to talk about it, but the real serious teams, they do it every day from how they practice, how they prepare from strength and conditioning to studying personnel and studying the game plan. It's in every aspect of the game."
Rose and his teammates understand that and are willing to listen to anything Thibodeau says right now. Even if it means sitting through a few never-ending conversations.