In case you missed it: Chicago Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was fired this morning. This concludes a tumultuous relationship between Thibs and the Bulls front office, which ESPN’s Nick Friedell illustrated in its entirety here.
Thibodeau finished his Bulls coaching career with a pretty damn impressive 255-139 regular season record, however, as you can see via Nick Friedell’s timeline — Thibs’ ability to win games was never the source of the rift between him and executives John Paxson/Gar Forman. Whether it was Thibodeau reportedly “never forgiving” Paxson for letting Kyle Korver and Omer Asik sign with other teams as free agents to “save money”, or, Thibs disregarding Paxson’s imposed “minutes restrictions” and running his star players into the ground — there was absolutely no trust between the front office and Tom’s coaching staff, Paxson’s game-management philosophies never translated to the court, and it’s clear the firing today was strictly personal.
Things are/were so testy between the two sides that…
Per a league source, at this moment the Bulls have security waiting to escort Tom Thibodeau out of the building.while he packs his things— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 28, 2015
To give you a better idea of how annoyed the Bulls brass was with Thibs, check out this rather vulgar press release (for press release standards, that is…) they sent out re: Tom’s termination….
(Click Link to enlarge)
and then look at the effort that they put into Vinny Del Negro’s press release, when he was fired…
Vinny Del Negro's firing email was much more, um, succinct. pic.twitter.com/SLXsztZYfn— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) May 28, 2015
Subtweet City, Population: United Center.
Anyways, it’s clear the Bulls basketball operations executives have drawn a proverbial “line in the sand”. You’re either with them, or, against ’em.
One member of the media who has notoriously been (and will always be) in the front office’s corner is Dan Bernstein, CBSChicago.com “Beat Reporter” who claims a majority the players were so upset with Thibs’ coaching style “they’d avoid team facility this summer if he were still there.”
#Bulls sources: at least three starters ripped Thibs in exit interview, said they'd avoid team facility this summer if he were still there.— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein) May 28, 2015
On the contrary, the players don’t sound like people who were “extremely and visibly” upset with their coach/happy he got fired…
Joakim Noah in text message on Thibodeau: "I want to thank Thibs for all the work he put in. I wish him nothing but the best."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 28, 2015
There are even rumors out there that Jimmy Butler won’t re-sign with Bulls if Thibodeau is not the coach of the team next season…
Regardless of who is right, who is wrong, and who believes what … all that matters is that this marriage was just never going to work, the toxicity of the relationship was clearly wearing on the players during the playoffs (despite reports saying otherwise) and it’s probably best for both parties that Tom depart for another organization. A lot of Bulls fans will probably see this transaction today as the organization’s first step towards “blowing things up” and starting over, but, personally: I see it more as a minor surgery to remove the team’s bulging appendix. Give it a couple weeks of bed rest, and they’ll be back on their feet. I’m also glad that the front office didn’t follow through on their threat to let every NBA head coaching vacancy get filled and then they’d fire Thibodeau so that he couldn’t get a job elsewhere. That would have been a black eye that this franchise would have never been able to come back from, and would have potentially kept top-tier coaches from ever signing on to lead the Bulls in the future — in fear of shit hitting the fan, and the same career-crushing fate awaiting them as it did Coach Thibodeau in 2015.
Before I turn this post into a sob story/martyr rallying cry: Don’t feel bad for Thibodeau, people, he and his $9 million severance pay (what’s left on his contract) are going to be just fine on a yacht in the Bahamas somewhere — and it’s only a matter of time until every NBA franchise with a head coaching vacancy rolls out the red carpet for him.