Tom Thibodeau’s firing continues to haunt the Bulls

One of the most controversial moments in Chicago Bulls history came in 2015, when the front office led by Gar Forman and John Paxson decided to part ways with head coach Tom Thibodeau. Although the success of that era was led by 2011 MVP Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, Thibodeau always found a way to win, even when many key players were injured.

In the 2014-15 season, the year he was fired, Thibodeau coached the Bulls to a 50-32 record and finished third in NBA Coach of the Year voting. Even though Chicago had not reached the NBA Finals under the fiery coach, Thibodeau’s firing surprised the NBA community and angered Bulls fans, especially considering how long it took the team to contend again. Replacing Thibodeau with “speed and space” college coach Fred Hoiberg was a selfish move that landed the Bulls in basketball hell.

The closest the Bulls have come to 50 wins since then was in 2021-22, when Billy Donovan’s team went 46-36. The second-highest win total was 42 in the season after Thibodeau’s departure, after which the Bulls were primarily a .500 team.

On the other hand, Thibodeau faced struggles in Minnesota and only hit above .500 in one of his three seasons. But he picked up his pace in New York, leading the Knicks to three of four seasons above .500.

This season, the Knicks and Thibodeau are one win away from the coveted 50-win season. Their latest opponent? The bulls. Getting to 50 wins typically defines that fine line between being a playoff team and a true contender.

Since his Bulls tenure ended, Thibodeau is 13-6 against his former team. While Forman and Paxson are gone, Thibodeau is always trying to find a way to deal with the Bulls.