The Derrick Rose/Tom Thibodeau Bulls are one of the biggest what-ifs in franchise history. What happens if Rose doesn’t get hurt?
Are the Bulls able to knock off LeBron James and go to the NBA Finals? Would they have won a title?
It’s a painful thought for many Bulls fans, but Thibodeau is still thinking about it.
He brought it up on “First Take” on Wednesday. Thibodeau was asked about the criticism of him that he burned out his players in the regular season and he transitioned that into talk of Rose’s Bulls.
“The thing that I’m most proud of, in Chicago we had the best record in the league two years in a row,” Thibodeau said. “We had Derrick Rose, who was the youngest MVP in the league. That team had a great chance to win a championship and unfortunately Derrick got hurt, but if Derrick didn’t get hurt, I thought we would’ve been champions.
“The thing I was most proud of, when he did get hurt, the team fought and continued to win and found a way to get into the playoffs.”
It’s not an outrageous take from Thibodeau, especially coming from someone who would like to back his own team, but it’s also somewhat bold. The Bulls had the best record in the regular season back-to-back years before Rose got hurt and theoretically would have been a serious contender for years. Maybe they would have broken through against a LeBron James team.
However, they did get a crack against a LeBron team in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals and it wasn’t especially close. The Bulls picked up a blowout win in Game 1, but lost the next four games.
Regardless, we won’t know the answer to Thibodeau’s hypothetical.
As for the latest on Thibodeau’s coaching career, he didn’t say anything inflammatory but did say he is “looking to get back into it if the right opportunity does come along.”