The Chicago Bulls announced today the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as the 18th head coach in franchise history. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not announced.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome Tom Thibodeau as our new head coach. As I went through the process to search for the next head coach of the Chicago Bulls, the longer the process went it became apparent that Tom was a perfect fit for the Bulls,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “He is a great communicator and teacher of the game, and he fits our organizational philosophy from a defensive standpoint. With his experience and knowledge of the NBA, I am confident he will be a great leader for our team.”
Thibodeau, 52, most recently served as Associate Head Coach for the Boston Celtics for the last three seasons. As the lead assistant on Doc Rivers’ coaching staff, Thibodeau was responsible for the team’s defensive principles and strategies. During his time in Boston, Thibodeau and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals in 2008 and 2010, and claimed the Celtics 17th NBA Championship in 2008.
“I am very excited to be here and to join the Bulls organization. Chicago is a great city with great fans and a storied history,” said Thibodeau. “I would like to thank Jerry Reinsdorf and Gar Forman for presenting me with such a terrific opportunity. We have a talented team with a good nucleus of players, and I am eager to get started.”
While in the NBA, Thibodeau has also manned the sidelines for the Minnesota Timberwolves (1989-91), the Seattle SuperSonics (1991-92, served as an Advance Scout), the San Antonio Spurs (1992-94), the Philadelphia 76ers (1994-96), the New York Knicks (1996-2003) and the Houston Rockets (2003-07). Over that span, he has worked under Bill Musselman, John Lucas, Jeff Van Gundy, Don Chaney and Doc Rivers.
An NBA veteran of 21 years, his teams have compiled an overall record of 896-794 (.530), and have made the playoffs 14 times, including three trips to the NBA Finals (1999, 2008 and 2010). His teams have also amassed a postseason record of 88-79 (.527). In 21 seasons, he has helped his teams rank in the NBA’s Top 10 in team defense 16 times. While with New York in 2000-01, the Knicks set a then-NBA record when they held 33 consecutive opponents under 100 points.
Over the last seven seasons, he helped the Rockets and Celtics rank among the top five in scoring defense seven times and in defensive field goal percentage six times. Over that same span, his teams finished in the top two in opponent field goal percentage six times. During the Celtics’ championship campaign in 2007-08, Boston allowed 90.3 ppg (99.2 ppg previous season, 18th in NBA), which ranked second in the NBA. The Celtics also limited their opponents to a league-low .419 shooting from the field (.468 previous season, 24th in NBA).
Thibodeau began his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Salem State College. After three seasons with the Vikings, he was promoted to head coach. In 1985, he joined Harvard University’s basketball staff as an assistant coach. He spent four seasons with the Crimson before embarking on his NBA career in 1989.
The New Britain, Conn. native graduated from Salem State with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling. A four-year letter winner in basketball, he was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.