(CBS) Ahead of his first game back at the United Center as an opposing NBA coach since the Bulls unceremoniously fired him in May 2015, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday morning called his five-year tenure in Chicago “unbelievable.”
“It was a great run for me, a great experience,” Thibodeau said at morning shootaround ahead of the evening game.
“When I look back, it was unbelievable. But the nature of our league is you usually don’t stay with in one place your whole career. It was hard to leave New York, it was hard to leave Boston, it was hard to leave Chicago, but I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Minnesota.
“That’s sort of the nature of this league. Nothing lasts forever, and then you got to move on.”
Thibodeau went 255-139 (.647 winning percentage) from 2010-’15 in Chicago, leading the Bulls to the playoffs in each season. Asked what his favorite Bulls memory was, Thibodeau quickly cited how incredible the first season was, as Chicago won 62 games, advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and saw Derrick Rose blossom into the MVP.
“When I look back, 90 percent of it was great,” Thibodeau said. “And everything in life, there’s 10 percent of it that’s not going to be perfect. I think you learn from everything.”
Thibodeau was fired after his relationship with management deteriorated. Among many clashes, Thibodeau bristled at minutes restrictions that he viewed as micro-managing and was upset when management forced lead assistant Ron Adams out. Upon firing Thibodeau, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf cited a departure from a culture of trust and communication.
Thibodeau hasn’t spoken with Reinsdorf since he was fired, he said Tuesday. He did speak with Michael Reinsdorf, Jerry’s son and the Bulls’ president, at the Hall of Fame induction that included Jerry.
“Jerry was great to me, I’ve got great respect for him,” Thibodeua said.
“At some point, I’ll sit down with Jerry.”