FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau dropped in on an old friend Wednesday.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick invited the pair to a minicamp session, and despite the rain and wind of a mid-June day in Massachusetts, they both accepted.
''It's great to have them here,'' Belichick said. ''I have all the respect in the world for Tom and Tony, great coaches in their respective sports. Tony has won over 2,000 games. He wins more games in a month than I've won in my career.''
Belichick was jokingly asked if Joe Torre is the ''greatest'' manager of the last 20 years.
''He's not better than Tony La Russa,'' Belichick said with a grin. ''Nope.''
Belichick, a frequent attendee to Celtics games, met Thibodeau when he was the defensive coach for Doc Rivers in Boston.
''Tom has done a great job. I respected him with what he did here in Boston, his defensive patterns, and also obviously his job in Chicago,'' Belichick said. ''It's great to have him here and there's a lot of questions I want to ask them about running a team and getting ready for the season, things like that.
''Hopefully, they'll be able to help me out.''
Thibodeau led the Bulls to a 50-16 record this season, and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. An injury to guard Derrick Rose, though, in Round 1 ultimately led to an upset by the No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers. La Russa, in his final season with the Cardinals, led St. Louis to a World Series title.
Belichick and the Patriots went 13-3 last season, won the AFC East crown, and defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC title game, 23-20. In the Super Bowl, they lost to the New York Giants, 21-17.