Bulls Say Goodbye to Head Coach, Tom Thibodeau

Larry Thigpen

It was an excruciating end to the Bulls’ season as they fell, once again, to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the opening round of the playoffs, Cleveland’s power forward, Kevin Love, suffered a shoulder injury leaving him out of the series. With the exception of James, the Bulls were facing an inexperienced Cleveland. Going into the series, it seemed that the Bulls had all the pieces necessary to defeat the Cavaliers.

The Bulls, however, failed to capitalize on the weakness of the Cavaliers. In a seven game series, the Bulls ended up eliminated in six games. Shortly after, the inevitable arrived, the firing of coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau was relieved of his duties on May 28, leaving one question in mind, what went wrong? The decision didn’t come as a complete surprise, considering the fact that Thibodeau’s job was in question all season long with the team’s inconsistency.

In five seasons, Thibodeau had a record of 255-139, a .647 winning percentage. Even with all the teams’ regular season success, it didn’t pan out the same in the postseason.

Perhaps the most successful season for Thibodeau was 2010-11. That year, the Bulls had the best record in the NBA at 62-20. Thibodeau won Coach of the Year and his point guard, Derrick Rose, became the youngest player in NBA history to win the Most Valuable Player award.

In each season that followed, the Bulls were plagued by injuries they couldn’t quite shake off. Not denying Thibodeau’s success during his tenure, both coaching and the front office were at fault for the direction the team took. The lack of communication, distrust and disloyalty affected the team on and off the court. The inability to rest players, distrust in younger players to perform and making things his way were all key contributors to Thibodeau’s departure.

What can’t be denied is that Thibodeau achieved great success during his time with the Bulls. Primarily in the regular season, he instilled a defensive culture that has been one of the best in recent years and arguably, the best Bulls’ head coach since Phil Jackson.

After the departure of Thibodeau, the Bulls hired ex-player and former Iowa State Head Coach Fred Hoiberg. He is the 22nd head coach in the organization’s history. Hoiberg spent four years with the Bulls during the post-Jordan era as a player from 1999-2003.

As far as his strategies, Hoiberg is known for a free flowing offensive style of play, with speed. Also, his players are known for setting screens to generate offense early during a possession. These types of strategies should definitely help the team in polishing their identity offensively. The team has been stifling and suffocating on the defensive end.

Coach Hoiberg will have to deal with this element of their identity, but also improve it so that there is consistency and continuity in every game because defense still wins championships.

Former Coach Tom Thibodeau left the Bulls after five seasons with a record of 255-139
Keith Allison
Former Coach Tom Thibodeau left the Bulls after five seasons with a record of 255-139