by Steve Schreck
“If anything, we can learn from it and try to work on it in the future,” said Derrick Rose following a 96-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 27, 2010 that eliminated them from the playoffs.
2009-2010 made it two years in a row where the Bulls limped into the playoffs with a .500 record, and subsequently lost in the first round. It was clear that point guard Derrick Rose was headed to do great things, winning Rookie of the Year his first year and getting selected as an NBA All-Star in his second year. But where were the Chicago Bulls headed?
Listen to an audio compilation of interview clips.
Looking back, it seemed that Chicago was at a standstill with their progress, so in order to start competing at the next level, changes had to be made. The front office took the first step by firing coach Vinny Del Negro on May 4th. Del Negro, who had coached the Bulls for just two years, lacked the coaching experience that the young Chicago squad needed. In fact, he had no prior coaching experience at any level, other than playing in the NBA for thirteen years which proved insufficient.
Then, on June 5th, the Bulls organization agreed to a three-year deal with Tom Thiobodeau, a former assistant coach for the Boston Celtics.
Initially, there was some confusion by the hire, as the average fan had probably never heard of Thibodeau. However, around the league he was well-known. His name was synonymous with defense and experience. As the assistant coach for six different teams spanning eighteen years, and the assistant for the 2009 champion Celtics, Thibodeau was a good hire.
As Tom was introduced June 23rd, it was apparent that this was the right move for both sides. Coach Thibodeau loved what he saw, “There’s a lot to sell here, obviously- the rich tradition of this organization, a great city, and a great young nucleus to build around.” The respect was mutual, “He’s got a great reputation around the league,” Bulls General Manager Gar Forman said. “Obviously, most of it is for his defensive knowledge and defensive credentials.” Forman also went on to say that he also has a creative offensive mind, but just wasn’t asked to use it in Boston. “He’s coached in a number of big games. He’s coached in number of playoffs games. Everywhere he’s been they’ve had success. He’s been a big part of coaching championship level basketball.” Forman added, “He’s got a great knowledge of the game.”
It was evident that this selection process was taken seriously by Chicago’s front office, trying to find the best fit, and they were extremely thorough in doing so. Forman explains, “As part of our process we talked to a number of players that had played under Tom, and two of the examples that stood out were Yao Ming of Houston and Rajon Rondo at Boston, but the feedback that we got from the players that we talked to was that Tom was a terrific communicator and a terrific teacher of the game.” Most importantly, one of Forman’s last comments before he turned over the podium to Thibodeau, “He’s a winner.” [Read more…] about Bulls 2010 – 2011 Season in Review