The Sportz Nutt sounds off on the Chicago Bulls

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It’s hard to believe that anyone feels safe as a head coach in the NBA these days. Tom Thibodeau was just fired from his job as head coach of the Chicago Bulls, despite the fact that he had won almost 65% of his games since he began his tenure. This was just the last of many firings that seem ludicrous on the surface in recent years. Let’s examine it, shall we:

Tom Thibodeau – Chicago Bulls (2010 – 2015): 255 – 139, .647

This baffles me, since he is one of the best coaches out there. Their defense improved drastically under him, giving up 8PPG fewer once he took over, leading them to first place the East, and 62 wins. The team overachieved under his tenure, as he seemed to get more out of his roster than what was expected. In a league where super stars succeed, he did more with Derrick Rose than anyone could have imagined, making him a star. But the fact is, when he’s an often injured, worried about his post-NBA days type player, he perhaps isn’t even a superstar, but a glorified one.


That being said, Thibs played with the cards he was dealt and reeled off win after win after win. This season, his team was supposed to do better, but, alas, they once again lost to the team that has the league’s best player. LeBron James is going back to the finals for the fifth consecutive season, coincidentally the same amount of seasons Thibodeau has coached. And the fans thought they had him. They were up in that series, and lost. Coupled with the fact that they saw Atlanta as a lame duck, and they believe they are a coach away from winning it all. Which makes me laugh (primarily because I’m NOT a a Bulls fan), as they are now going to try and build upon a team with Rose (again), who will get hurt, Noah, who really regressed, Gasol, who at 34 may not have much time left, and Jimmy Butler, who, before this season, really didn’t do much, and reminds me of a slightly better DeMar Derozan.

And now, with the rumor of Fred Hoiberg becoming coach, it’s just another Reinsdorf sign that he only hires people who have played for him or he likes to coach his teams. It’s like hiring your buddy to be a bartender at your bar, but he doesn’t necessarily have the steadiest hand or is still looking up drinks as he makes them. But, because he knows you, it’s all okay.

So go ahead, Chicago, get your new coach. That will change EVERYTHING for you. Your team will suddenly remember how to score, and will continue to play stellar defense. Because it was the talent that was perfect, just not the coach. With Lebron still in the East, plus the Hawks with more togetherness, and the Wizards building, and the Bucks getting even better, and the Pacers back to being healthy, and the Celtics continuing upwards, and the Raptors (hopefully) learning their lesson and building, I see the Bulls trending downward. Look at Spoelstra in Miami, and what happened when his superstar left. He looks average and overmatched.

In the NBA , you need superstars to win, and the Bulls have none. But they don’t have a good coach now either, so they should really fall back down to earth, as they are now, and probably struggle to make the playoffs.

  • First of all, Thibodeau is a great regular season coach. In the playoffs he has a 23-28 record. Yes, I know a lot of it happened without Rose, but just looking at his offensive sets, he just is not a good offensive coach. He is unable to make the proper adjustments from game to game. His offense works against the Knicks, the Magic, and the 76ers of the world, but in a playoff series against good teams, he fails.

    Yes, Thibodeau is a good defensive coach, but this year his defense ranked 11th. That drop signifies that the message to his players wasn’t being heard anymore.

    Which brings me to another point. Thibodeau runs his players to the ground. Do you remember WHEN Rose first got injured? Game 1 of the opening round playoff series in 2012 against the Sixers. One minute to go and the Bulls up by 20, but Thibs kept him in the game.

    This is a constant with Thibs that most want to gloss over. He wants the players to play every game as if it was Game 7. By the time the playoffs come, the players have nothing left to give.

    You mention Rose as being oft-injured, but under Thibs, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol have all had injuries DURING THE PLAYOFFS, some of which weren’t cause by big hits or anything. I don’t know if you are a Heat fan, but seeing Luol Deng play this season you can see that he is a shadow of what he was a couple of years ago. Remember that scouting report Atlanta had on him — “Chicago ran him to the ground.”

    You, like many others, make fun of Rose’s injuries, yet don’t take the time to look closer at his condition. Last year, when he had to have his meniscus repaired. he could have had it clipped off and come back sooner. He decided to keep the ligament, and had a 40 percent chance of tearing it again. When it happened this year, he finally decided to have it clipped. He will no longer have that ligament trouble, though he risks having an arthritic knee in 10 years. It’s the same thing Dwyane Wade did when he was in Marquette. I think he had a pretty good career despite the knee, no?

    The last thing about Thibs is his inter-personal skills. He has none. He has a “It’s my way only” attitude, and doesn’t take any suggestions. A position was opened in his coaching staff to bring in an offensive-minded coach to help Thibs, but of course, he felt he knew what he was doing and refused to hire anyone. His people leaked the inner goings of the team, and that just can’t happen.

    Did you know that in the five years he was in Chicago, Thibodeau did not speak to the owner? Jerry Reinsdorf was the one who was turned on to Thibs. The GM and team president did not have him on the radar.

    Coaching is not just about X’s and O’s. A coach has to have good relationships with his players. He didn’t have that, as the players were starting to revolt against him. After a bad loss to the Cavs earlier in the year, instead of giving the day off scheduled and a day off they sorely needed, Thibs changed his mind and called for a practice. The players did not want it, and if he went on with that practice, NO PLAYER WAS GOING TO SHOW UP! Thibs did not want to be embarrassed so he did not have the practice.

    A coach needs to have a good relationship with the front office. Thibs refused to go along with ANY of Paxson’s or Forman’s suggestions. Then, as an act of insubordination, he played around the minutes given to Noah, and did it in a way that in several games he had Noah on the bench when the team needed him.

    Tom Thibodeau was daring the Chicago Bulls to fire him. The Bulls accepted the challenge and did exactly that.

    • sportznutt

      Thanks for your reply Carlos!

      It’s amazing how many coaches just fail to win the big game time after time. I’m still wiping the tears away from last night’s NHL debacle.

      People complain about a coach running his players down and playing like it’s Game 7 all the time. I just heard some analysts say that LeBron doesn’t have it, and that Jordan was more intense, and that LeBron’s killer instinct is missing, and that Jordan never rested like LeBron, etc. In a league where superstars are required to win championships, one can’t complain that a coach is too tough on them. That injury could have and probably would have happened at another time and place, because it was non-contact. It’s very unfortunate though, and has deflated them ever since.

      I still say he did what he could with the talent he had. Look around, and there is not one superstar in that locker room, but they will be treated as such and thought of as a coach away from winning it all.

      • You can’t compare the intensity of a Jordan to one of LeBron. This is a different era.

        You talk about Rose’s injury as waiting to happen,but what about the other players? Butler was bumped on a play and missed a week. Why was that? Noah and Gibson are constantly injured. Are the Bulls just unlucky with fragile players? Is there medical team bad? Or is it the coach?

        Also, the injuries are just one reason for his exit. If you act like a petulant child to your bosses, and you refuse to take some advice, and you then decide not to talk to your bosses, how long will you last in your job? Thibs thought his way was the only way.

        • sportznutt

          I’d like you to expand on that Jordan vs LeBron thought:)

          Injuries are usually unlucky….players can be fragile……it’s near impossible to predict when they will happen, however, if someone is constantly injured, like Rose, it’s easier to spot and build around. Thibs was given an injured star to build around.

          I’m very curious to see the Bulls this upcoming season and see the way of his bosses, with the talent they have. If they succeed, then I’ll eat some crow.

          • Jordan’s intensity is incomparable to anyone in this day. Only Kobe comes close. LeBron takes nights off and is calling for a reduction in the number of games in a season. Jordan played as much as possible. He even had a clause in his contract that said he could play basketball anywhere and everywhere he wanted, whether it was with the Bulls or a pickup game.

            Thibs was not given an injured star. He was given a Rookie of the Year who was on the precipice of superstardom. He had no injury problem until Thibs. Look at the season he has when he first got injured. He had turf toe, back trouble and shoulder problem DURING THE SEASON. I say again, it’s not just Rose, but Rose was the most seriously injured and highest profile player on the team, but how do you explain Noah, Gibson, Deng, Hinrich, Butler and even Gasol going down with injuries in the playoffs? If it wasn’t Thibs then it was the medical staff?

  • sportznutt

    I disagree with the Jordan vs LeBron comments, simply because nobody knows the intensity or passion of someone except those involved, but if we are to speculate, then I guess you could say taking days off means a lack of intensity, I guess then the entire league does it too….maybe it’s to preserve his body, or maybe it’s because of a longer playoff season, or maybe it’s because it’s a much faster and more physical game now too….he also is capable of playing each position on the floor and takes a beating out there every night.

    I’m not sure what we’re arguing about with regards to Rose. Are you claiming its Thibs’ fault for the injuries? I’m not sure. Was he playing too much? We’re the other players playing too much? I don’t know what we’re arguing here:)

    • You talk about Rose as if Thibs had damaged goods. You said he was “given an injured star to build around”, but that’s not true. He didn’t miss any games before Thibs came around. Thibs has something to do with the fact his players break down during the playoffs. I know you can’t predict completely when injuries occur, but when players are run down, the POSSIBILITY of injury is higher.

      • sportznutt

        He was given an injured star because the injury happened 3 years ago, and for the seasons he was scheduled to play, they made him the star….what else has he been given to build around? There are role players but that’s it. You can’t build around Noah, Gasol or Butler.

        Also, Thibs puts them through long periods of play….you just said that taking games off shows a lack of intensity… on the one hand, by not playing and resting your body, you’re thought of as not giving 100%, but then if you, you’re careless be a use you’re not thinking of their health.

        • What you don’t seem to accept is that Thibs was given A HEALTHY STAR, about to hit superstardom. The injury happened three years ago, WITH THIBS AS THE COACH. How can you say he was given “an injured star” when that same star didn’t miss any games before Thibs was the coach?

          Don’t confuse my argument. There is a line between playing 100 percent and being played foolishly. Did you ever see Michael Jordan play with the Bulls up 20 with a minute to go in a game? There are times when you can find rest for your player, and I will excuse you since you obviously haven’t seen many Bulls games, but there were plenty of times when the Bulls had big leads in the 4th quarter, yet Thibs was playing his key players to the end. For some reason, Thibs didn’t see that his team wasn’t going to give up a 20-point lead in the final minute. And that is why he is now unemployed…

          • sportznutt

            I think we’re at a point where we need to agree to disagree. I hear your points and you’ve heard mine. I respectfully disagree with you but appreciate the fact that we were able to actually go back and forth without insulting each other.

            Thanks for reading and taking the time to reply. Knowing there is an informed and passionate reader like you makes me want to write more and more.