CHICAGO – With two NFL head coaches down this season and the news that the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford will be sidelined temporarily after suffering chest pains Thursday night requiring a heart procedure (stents), coaching stress is a topic cutting across sports lately.
Given the demeanor of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau during games – in all his stomping, raging, emoting glory – he seemed a logical choice to ask about it. And maybe be concerned about it.
“It’s a tough job,” Thibodeau told reporters before the Bulls’ game against Utah Friday night at United Center. “You have to take care of yourself. You feel for those guys. Sometimes you get wrapped up in it. You have the tendency to grind – you’re always grinding. Once the season starts, you’re never off.
“So I think you have to be careful. You have to map it out as best you can. But it’s a tough job.”
Clifford and Thibodeau are good friends, working together with the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets under Jeff Van Gundy from 2000 to 2007. The Bulls’ coach said he had been in contact with Clifford on Friday via text messages.”Thankfully, he’s feeling better,” Thibodeau said.
Clifford had two stents placed in his heart Friday and, according to a team spokesman, is expected to re-join the Bobcats soon. Assistant coach Patrick Ewing handled his duties Friday against New York.
John Fox, the Denver Broncos’ coach, had surgery to replace an aortic heart valve after feeling light-headed while golfing during his team’s bye week. Gary Kubiak fell to his knees, suffering what has been termed a mini-stroke, at halftime of his Houston Texans’ game against Indianapolis Sunday.
Like so many in his position – and perhaps more so – Thibodeau, 54, is known for his workaholic ways, the long hours he puts in, his endless presence at the Bulls’ facility in Deerfield. A single man without children, he has few competing priorities, or “distractions,” to pull him away from the game and its demands.
Even reminding himself to ease up occasionally isn’t foolproof, he said.
“It’s not that simple. You could leave the office, but the job’s not going to leave you,” Thibodeau said. “It’s always on your mind. So you have to, I think, find a couple things that can get your mind off it. Whether it’s the movies, reading a book, whatever it might be. I think that’s important.”