Tom Thibodeau took the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs in each of his five season as coach, but his sour relationship with the front office doomed him, leading the team to announce that he had been fired.
Thibodeau was the NBA coach of the year in 2011, when the team reached the Eastern Conference finals, but no other Thibodeau team ever made it past the second round.
This year’s team beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round before falling in six games to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ESPN analyst and former coach Jeff van Gundy claimed in January that the Bulls front office was undermining Thibodeau.
“This isn’t new to Chicago Bulls basketball, all the way back to Phil Jackson,’’ van Gundy said. “The team has publicly supported their coach while privately, oftentimes, undermining that same person. You saw it with Vinny Del Negro, Scott Skiles. Think about it, they ran out Phil Jackson out after winning all those championships.
“I think it’s wrong. It’s wrong for the town, wrong for the team and it certainly has not been fair to Tom Thibodeau.”
On Thursday, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf released a scathing statement announcing the firing. Here’s a brief snippet:
“When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required.”
President Obama, a big Chicago sports fan, even answered a question about his thoughts on Thibodeau.
With Thibodeau’s departure, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who played for the Bulls during 1999-2003, is considered a top prospect to become Chicago’s new coach.