For the entire fourth quarter of a close game Wednesday — a game Chicago lost — Carlos Boozer sat and watched. Coach Tom Thibodeau had benched Boozer, the Bulls second best player.
And he was none to pleased about it, as ESPNDallas reports.
“You got to talk to Thibs about that,” Boozer said. “That was a coaching decision.”
Reporters did ask Thibs, and got a tap dance answer.
“The big thing was we were behind big and they were zoning,” Thibodeau said. “And so the group that went in, playing Luol [Deng] at the 4, gave us another perimeter player. So it was more effective for us against the zone. So that’s why we did it. And when that group cut the lead down and now we were in position, they tied the game up so we just were going to finish with the group that was going well.”
Actually, Boozer’s ability to get inside the soft middle of a zone and score should have been an advantage, no? Boozer had some defensive lapses, and that may be the more likely reason he sat — a message was sent. The Bulls had gone small and had success, which led to Rose sitting longer than usual as well. But he went back in.
Still, there had to be other ways to send the message. The Bulls need Boozer, both his scoring and his rebounding. At the end of a close game when you need a bucket, Kurt Thomas (who Thibodeau called on) is not the answer.
Benching is a public way of dealing with something that likely could have been handled in private later. With veterans like Boozer, public humiliation is not the way to go (unless your Phil Jackson doing it through the media).
Come the next game Friday in Philadelphia, everyone will say this is behind them and it is no big deal. Maybe it will be. But this is the first real sign of dissention on a Chicago team that had overcome a lot this season and played well. Thibodeau has to start melding and mending egos, too, if the Bulls are going to challenge Boston and Miami in the East. This action did not seem to help that.