Tom Thibodeau spoke publicly for the first time since being fired by the Bulls last week, telling ESPN's "Mike and Mike" he has no regrets about the five years he spent in Chicago.
Thibodeau, who replaced Vinny Del Negro in 2010, admitted that friction existed between him and the Bulls front office - namely GM Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson - but wanted to focus on the positive aspects of his tenure, which included 255 regular-season victories, five playoff appearances, Derrick Rose earning league MVP honors in 2011 and Joakim Noah winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
"It was a great experience for me. I loved our players. I loved my staff," he said. "Derrick (Rose) going down was a big hit for us. He missed a major part of four seasons. We really had him for one year when he had the MVP season and that was huge for us. We lost a lot of other guys along the way. But the team always found a way. Sometimes I sat there and I didn’t know how. They did an incredible job. They fought through that adversity. We made the playoffs every year. We gave it our best shot and fell short at the end.
"I’m going to move on. I look forward to the next opportunity.”
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The rift between the two sides was well-documented long before Thibodeau and the Bulls parted way. But Thibodeau said he didn't believe any of the tension from the front office to limit players' minutes and/or rest players down the stretch in the regular season had any effect on how the Bulls performed under him.
"If you allow yourself to be distracted, you’re going to be distracted by other things as well. As players and coaches, you’re going to hear things all the time whether it’s trades or being fired or whatever it might be. I think the important thing is to lock into what you have to do each day, put everything you have into it and then you let the results speak for themselves."
The Bulls replaced Thibodeau with Fred Hoiberg, who was officially announced as the head coach on Tuesday. Hoiberg's up-tempo offensive philosophies are a stark contrast from what Thibodeau preached - defense - in Chicago, and he admitted moving forward he'll continue to evaluate and reflect on his coaching tendencies, leaving open the possibility of change wherever he winds up. As of now Thibodeau has not been publicly linked to the Denver Nuggets job, the only current opening in the NBA.
"There are some things you may not change but you always want to add, evolve. I think the big thing is to study and prepare and try to do it better the next time. There’s a lot of things that I learned from the experience. I learned from all my experiences."
Learning from those experiences earlier and adapting to the front office's desires may have saved Thibodeau's job, but he has no regrets about his time as he searches for his next stop.
"It was a great run," he said. "I just move on."