DALLAS – Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau kept his distance from anything Miami Heat on Saturday.
The Bulls snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak on Wednesday, a physical game that had LeBron James openly complaining about the officiating afterward and questioning the hard defense he endured in the 101-97 loss, Miami’s first since early February.
James’ complaints had some around the league rolling their eyes, including Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who on Thursday went on Boston radio and said James’ whining was “embarrassing.”
Ainge’s criticism provoked Heat president Pat Riley to take the rare step of releasing a statement Friday directing Ainge to “shut the (bleep) up” and to manage his own team.
Thibodeau wasn’t about to jump into that fray on Saturday so his standard answer to any question directly or indirectly related to Miami prior to Saturday’s 100-98 loss at Dallas was simply to say he and his team were solely focused on the Mavericks.
Even when asked about the physical play employed by Carlos Boozer and his team in beating the Heat, and the importance of such a style come the Eastern Conference playoffs, Thibodeau interpreted it as a sly attempt by the reporter to get initiate talk about Miami.
“Nice try,” Thibodeau said.
One topic that Thibodeau did have a response for came in regard to his four-year contract extension that was made official at an Oct. 1 news conference, yet remains unsigned. That tidbit was broached in a Yahoo! column on Friday. Thibodeau called it a non-issue and said it was being held up by the fine print.
“Total non-issue. Total non-issue,” Thibodeau said. “The lawyers had it tied up for a while, whatever they do, I don’t know what these lawyers do, something about language or something. I just got it back and as soon as I get an opportunity, [Bulls general manager] Gar [Forman] will have it. So total non-issue.”