In what seemed to be a foregone conclusion, the Bulls announced the firing of coach Tom Thibodeau after five seasons in Chicago.
The 2011 NBA Coach of the Year had a record of 255-139 during his tenure, including a trip to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals that resulted in a five-game loss to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. Only Erik Spoelstra, Gregg Popovich and Scott Brooks had more wins during that time, which for Thibodeau was marked by controversy and friction between himself and the front office.
It was alluded to in a statement from Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
“The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court," Reinsdorf said. "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.”
[MORE BULLS: Fred Hoiberg leading candidate to replace Tom Thibodeau]
Thibodeau brought a hoarse voice, dogged preparation and a defensive intensity from his days as a Boston Celtics assistant coach, the mastermind of a team that won the 2008 title and took the Los Angeles Lakers to the final minutes of a Game 7 two years later.
Thibodeau put his stamp on the Bulls' franchise from the moment he arrived, but had to deal with short-handed teams that dealt with injuries year after year, starting with Derrick Rose's blown-out knee in the 2012 playoffs.
This season was long thought to be the last stand for Thibodeau, who had two years on his contract but had a seemingly championship-ready roster with the addition of Pau Gasol and the return of Rose after the former MVP missed nearly two full years with injury.
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But it seemed to be a microcosm of Thibodeau's time, where the Bulls went through the season barely seeing their starting five on the floor and not putting enough consistency together to vault them to true championship conversation.
Thibodeau's voice seemed to wane with his team this year, one marked by minute restrictions, up-and-down intensity and a disappointing ending in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a six-game loss to the Finals-bound Cleveland Cavaliers.
And the discord between he and Gar Forman and John Paxson always seemed to be swirling in the background, bubbling to the foreground on several occasions this season.
"When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach,” Forman said. “But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed."
And now the Bulls will be on the hunt for a coach to take them to the next level, with many expecting Iowa State head coach and former Bull Fred Hoiberg to become the next coach.
Check out the video below as Goodwill joined Thursday's Kap and Haugh Show to discuss the Bulls' firing of Thibodeau: