New “D’s Corner”,
FOR SALE: One of the top coaches in the NBA…asking price…NOTHING!
I have been and will always be a Chicago Bulls fan for as long as I live (1966 and counting…), that being said I can’t remember being more angry at ‘my’ team than right now and here’s why…
The Bulls have had a total (so far) of twenty two head coaches in their illustrious almost fifty year history and save for a few (Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr, Dick Motta, Jerry Sloan, Doug Collins, Phil Jackson and now Tom Thibodeau) most of them have been in a word…TERRIBLE!
I ain’t no mathematician but six out of twenty two with one of them (Sloan) having his best coaching years in Utah don’t put you on the ‘credit’ side of the ledger that’s for damn sure.
Instead of going waaayyy back down memory lane I’ll just list the coaches we’ve had since we won our last of six championships (all under Jackson)…Tim Floyd, Bill Berry, Bill Cartwright, Pete Myers, Scott Skiles, Pete Myers (again), Jim Boylan, Vinnie Del Negro and now Thibodeau.
Are you kidding me? I count seven terrible coaches who had no coaching success before we hired them and none after they left. So now after finally striking ‘gold’ with a coach in Thibodeau (who won Coach of the Year his first season as head coach) who has led the Bulls to the playoffs each year he’s been their coach and only taking one ‘healthy’ squad (the 2011 team which went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals) into said playoffs (this season’s litany of injuries notwithstanding) the word is he may be out after this season. Rumored to be replaced by former Bulls player and current Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg (who has a better chance of joining the “Un-Magnificent Seven” I listed above before ever becoming a coach like Thibodeau). Why?
The ‘company line’ is because he plays his players too long during games which also leads to injuries. Supposedly, the players are too tired by the time the playoffs start. In other words a coach who’s been in the NBA for over twenty five years never learned how to manage player minutes.
Yeah, the reason we’ve not won a championship isn’t because your star player (Derrick Rose) has been hurt for the last three years (missing the playoffs the last three years save one game in 2012) it’s because the best coach you’ve had since Jackson (by far) doesn’t know how to manage his player’s minutes. This from a coach who was an assistant under quite a few NBA coaches (Bill Musselman, Jerry Tarkanian, John Lucas, Jeff Van Gundy and Doc Rivers) to name a few. Now you’re telling me he never learned how to manage player minutes under NONE of these coaches? Of all of the injuries sustained by Bulls players over the past four years I can’t think of one that was due to players playing too many minutes. Can somebody please tell me when this new era of NBA players need rest during the season? Call me ‘old school’ but I don’t remember players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, etc…having to take time off during the season (unless injured) because they were tired…are you kidding me?
To only pick out current Bulls management John Paxson and Gar Forman (current VP and GM) would be unfair only because Bulls management (despite some of our successes) has been bad pretty much for the last almost fifty years and counting!
We won six championships in eight years (1991, 92, 93 and 1996, 97 and 98) and granted it would once again be unfair to not give the previous management (Jerry Krause) some credit but let’s face it, having arguably the greatest player who ever played the game (in Michael Jordan) was your equivalent of “the BIG joker” (for you “Spades” players like me). Thibodeau should be getting a contract extension not being threatened with possible termination. These rumors have been going on for a while now (several years) so if they aren’t true or if the Bulls really want Thibodeau as their coach long term why haven’t they squashed them yet?
Let’s keep it real…whenever a good coach is rumored to be fired (Jim Harbaugh, Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson) it’s never just one thing or what’s being told or leaked by players and/or management. It’s usually granular, grainy, you know, something fine but course at the same time.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as coach and management not getting along either personally, philosophically, or both but usually, it’s deeper than that. Rumors of Tom Thibodeau being fired started almost as soon as he was hired and I can’t understand why. He currently has a .637 winning percentage in the regular season for his last five seasons. Once again, I ain’t no mathematician but a .637 winning percentage is practically winning two out of every three games last I went to school. He’s done more with less (Kyle Korver, Nate Robinson, DJ Augustin, CJ Watson, Marco Bellineli, etc…just to name a few) than any coach I can recall. All I listed were average players (at best) before ‘Thibs’ got a hold of them and ALL went on to sign huge contracts and one (Bellineli) won a championship with other teams after they left him because he made them better players.
No, he has not won a title yet (who could when their best player has been almost non-existent for the last three years) however, NO COACH could have done a better job with the hand ‘Thibs’ has been dealt these last few years and we are closer to winning a title WITH ‘Thibs’ than we would be without him. If Bulls management makes this move Thibodeau will have a gig before he walks out of the door…there are teams who will ‘fire’ their current head coaches just to hire ‘Thibs’…what are the Bulls thinking?
In the end, I don’t doubt that Thibodeau, Paxson, Forman and the players want to win…it just appears that maybe all of them have a different view of how to do that. And if Bulls management feels that strongly that ‘Thibs’ isn’t the coach to get them to the next level maybe it’s best for all parties move on.
We may never truly know what caused this rift between ‘Thibs’ and current management but I do know this…based on Bulls history…if they do decide to fire him or let him walk/resign we better hold on to our pictures of those championship teams we had because it’ll be a long time before we find another Tom Thibodeau! And I’ll go out on a limb a say this, I bet whichever team ‘Thibs’ goes to (I’ll put early money on Cleveland) he’ll win an NBA title long before the Bulls ever do! I’ll put up my paycheck (which is starting to look more like a bill) on that!
Hey, Fred Hoiberg’s #3 Iowa State team was just eliminated in the first round (Thursday) of the 2015 NCAA Tournament by #14 UAB so he might be available now…no time like the present right?
With his team’s performance Thursday it sounds like he’s the perfect fit to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls!
NOTE: RIP Jack Haley 1964-2015 (Chicago Bulls 1988-89 and 1995-96)
D is a regular contributor to thestartinglineup.net