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Bulls Fire Tom Thibodeau

Once the Chicago Bulls were rudely dismissed from the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, everybody knew that Tom Thibodeau’s days were numbered in Chicago. Reports immediately surfaced saying he was done, and on Thursday, the Bulls finally pulled the plug on their head coach after five seasons.

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Reports of a feud between Thibodeau and management began surfacing in 2013 after Thibodeau’s top assistant Ron Adams was let go. Things steadily got worse over the next few years, and everything came to a head this season. Disagreements over minutes management and the handling of the roster were at the forefront of the problem, and management was livid when Jeff Van Gundy, Thibodeau’s friend, ripped the organization on multiple national TV broadcasts.

There appeared to be little trust and communication between Thibs and the front office, and that was all the more evident based on the scathing press release the Bulls sent out to announced the dismissal of their head coach (via

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. 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. Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future.”


Bulls general manager Gar Forman threw some shade in there as well with a brief statement, reiterating just how much this relationship deteriorated. (Thibodeau didn’t mention Forman or John Paxson in his official statement on Thursday night.) Forman and Paxson spoke to the media Thursday afternoon and said nothing of consequence, again talking about some of the issues with trust and communication. They talked about how they’ll dive into a coaching search, although the belief is that the coaching search basically just consists of Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg.

Of course, while the extremely petty side of the Bulls’ front office reared its ugly head during this saga, there’s no doubt that Thibodeau deserves blame as well. He was as stubborn and rigid as they come as Bulls head coach, and his relentless nature reportedly wore on some of his players. He wasn’t flexible enough and didn’t adapt to the times accordingly, and the idea behind hiring Hoiberg would be that he’d bring in a more modern offensive philosophy. Hoiberg also has a prior relationship with the organization.

In the end, Thibodeau is a very good coach who enjoyed quite a bit of success in Chicago. Perhaps more success than he should have given all of the injuries. But with all of this nastiness swirling around and the postseason flameout, it was time for him to go.

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