SAN ANTONIO — If the Bulls have an opponent, coach Tom Thibodeau is waxing poetic about their potency. That said, he saved special, seemingly more heartfelt praise for the Spurs and particularly coach Gregg Popovich. "He's wearing more than one hat here, so he has to weigh a lot in his decision making," Thibodeau said in a nod to Popovich's personnel role. "When you look at what he's done over a long period of time, to me they are the gold standard of the league. Every year they find a way to be right at the top and have a chance." The first of the Spurs' four NBA championships under Popovich came in 1999, when they defeated a Knicks team coached by Jeff Van Gundy — who called Wednesday's game courtside — and assisted by Thibodeau. "What he has done here is built a championship-caliber team and organization from top to bottom — in everything they do," Thibodeau said. "To me, when you measure greatness, it's having the ability to do it year after year. And he has shown that. I have a lot of respect for what he has done."