Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had a quizzical look on his face when asked who he had in the Super Bowl.
''Who's in it?'' he said, probably joking.
But while Thibodeau has little interest in the game itself, he does have a healthy respect for New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the Celtics for three seasons (2007-10) during Belichick's reign with the Patriots.
''He's a big basketball fan. He was at a number of games in Boston,'' Thibodeau said. ''I had the opportunity to meet him. I haven't had the opportunity to spend any time with him, but I'd like to.''
Thibodeau and Belichick have similar backgrounds. Both went to small colleges in New England -- Thibodeau at Salem State in Salem, Mass; Belichick at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., just 12 miles from Thibodeau's hometown of New Britain.
Both were defensive assistants for championship coaches (the Celtics' Glenn Rivers; the Giants' Bill Parcells). And both were fortunate to get their big break at the right time -- Thibodeau inherited Derrick Rose; Belichick has made five Super Bowls with Tom Brady.
''He's a great coach -- year after year he finds a way to win,'' Thibodeau said. ''Whenever they lose players, he always finds guys that can step in and fill the roles for the team to succeed. He's done a great job of building a culture there that each year they have a chance to win it.''
Thibodeau said that while he never has talked coaching in-depth with Belichick, he has learned a lot from him.
''Because I was in that city I had an opportunity to study him a little bit,'' said Thibodeau, who also was an assistant with the Knicks when Belichick was an assistant with the Jets in 1997-99. ''I've read some of his books. And I also think the coaches that he had been around -- like Parcells is a great coach ... So any time you have an opportunity to study and learn from other people you try to do so.''