Jason Kaestner hosts “Spraying to All Fields” on Chicagoland Sports Radio, airing every Saturday after “The D & Davis Show”
The Chicago Bulls have fired Tom Thibodeau, surprising precisely no one paying even the slightest attention to the NBA this season.
For months rumors and secrets have unsubtly leaked out of Chicago indicating that this was the only logical conclusion to an NBA marriage that outlasted its lifespan, as well as league averages.
As a longstanding Thibodeau supporter, this was a slow, painful end to observe. The last time I wrote about the Bulls, I did so quite figuratively. Partially, that was because I’m a huge nerd – of the literally variety rather than the statistical – but also because it helped me come to terms with the unavoidable fact that for the first time Thibodeau wasn’t inherently coaching his Bulls to be better than their talent.
Had I been running the Bulls I would have fired Thibodeau in mid-to-late March with the hope that there was still time to reverse the negativity and dissension that plague the 2015-16 season in order to become a viable NBA title contender.
Two months removed and a press release and press conference later I know that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” and I suspect Tom Thibodeau was more an effect rather than the cause of that.
This time I’ll be blunt. The Bulls need a completely fresh start. As much as it pains me to say it, and assuming Jerry Reinsdorf means what he says, I wish he would go the full measure and fire John Paxson and Gar Forman too. There I said it, the Paxson apologist finally said it.
As much as I want it to as a Bulls fan, nothing significantly changes by just firing Thibodeau. Paxson has been on the job since April 2003. In those twelve years, Paxson has already been allowed to fire four head coaches and hire three. Even within an organization known for its fierce loyalty, that is unprecedented patience.
Also, as fun as it is to recall Pax grabbing Vinny Del Negro by the tie — if for no other reason than Del Negro is an incredibly unsympathetic individual — it’s less of a laughing matter reflecting on the working relationships and mutual respect Reinsdorf supposedly values. Paxson lacks the very things Reinsdorf found lacking in Thibodeau.
I desperately hope that I’m wrong about the Bulls. I want Paxson to find that remarkable head coach that can lead the Bulls out of an impending basketball hell and into the promised land. The promised land is the only thing a Bulls fan should tolerate from this front office. They have had enough time and made enough excuses.
John Paxson and Gar Forman need to prove that they deserve Reinsdorf’s reprieve and his vote of confidence. Defy the odds. Bring at least a seventh NBA Championship to Chicago or go away. No more excuses. To steal a line from Thibs, “do your job.”
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