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updated: 3/8/2014 9:40 PM

Bulls' Thibodeau: LeBron is an all-time great

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  • Miami Heat forward LeBron James reacts after being called for a technical foul while shooting against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 1, 2013.

      Miami Heat forward LeBron James reacts after being called for a technical foul while shooting against the Indiana Pacers during the second half of Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 1, 2013.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Heat's LeBron James reacts to the crowd after setting a team record during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Monday, March 3, 2014, against the Charlotte Bobcats. LeBron James scored a team record of 61 points. The Heat won 124-107.

      Miami Heat's LeBron James reacts to the crowd after setting a team record during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Monday, March 3, 2014, against the Charlotte Bobcats. LeBron James scored a team record of 61 points. The Heat won 124-107.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Heat forward LeBron James walks on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in San Antonio.

      Miami Heat forward LeBron James walks on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in San Antonio.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) enters the game during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Tuesday, March, 4, 2014, in Houston.

      Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) enters the game during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Tuesday, March, 4, 2014, in Houston.
    Associated Press

  • Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) dunks against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in San Antonio.

      Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) dunks against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Sunday, June 16, 2013, in San Antonio.
    Associated Press

 
 

Nobody asked this question specifically, but it sounds like LeBron James would get a carving in Tom Thibodeau's NBA Mt. Rushmore.

"Nobody," Thibodeau said Saturday when asked if James compares to anyone he has coached against. "You're combining the speed, the power, the skill, the passing, the vision. I can't recall anyone that I've coached against that's like that.

"There's nothing that he doesn't do. He's great with the ball, great without the ball. Can post, can drive, can shoot, can really pass. If you overcommit to him, he's going to make you pay. And he keeps getting better every year. He's an all-time great."

Thibodeau coached against Michael Jordan plenty of times. But even Jordan in his prime doesn't match up with James' size and strength.

The Bulls will host Miami for the final time during the regular season Sunday afternoon. The Heat is 1-5 at the United Center since Thibodeau began coaching the Bulls.

But the Bulls lost at Miami 93-79 two weeks ago when James didn't play because of a broken nose. The Bulls held a 1-point lead with five minutes left in the third quarter, then were dominated the rest of the way.

This is the second date in the Bulls' six-game, elite-opponent homestand. Four of the league's five best teams will visit town during the next eight days, with San Antonio, Houston and Oklahoma City following Miami into the building.

"In this league, you're going to be challenged every day you're in it," Thibodeau said. "It doesn't matter who you are, if you're a player, executive. If you're a first-year player, a 15th-year player -- it doesn't matter. That's what brings out the best in people. We're looking forward to it."

After the Feb. 23 loss in Miami, Joakim Noah talked about how the Bulls didn't bring enough dislike for the Heat to the court.

"Those guys ended our seasons a lot," Noah said that day. "You've got to hate playing these guys, and our intensity has to be, every time we play them, our intensity has to be high."

Following Friday's 85-77 home loss to Memphis, Noah wasn't in the right mood to get fired up about the Heat.

"I look forward to it. I don't think there's anything to talk about, really," he said in the locker room. "Everybody knows what's up. We're playing against the defending champs. Chicago Bulls vs. the Miami Heat -- it's always exciting."

Bulls guard D.J. Augustin went 0-for-10 from the field in the last game at Miami. He talked Friday about the challenging schedule ahead.

"We're not worrying about it," he said. "We feel like we're one of the best teams, too, and feel like we can beat anybody any given night, especially at home."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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