Tom Thibodeau calls time with Bulls 'a great run' despite being fired

LAS VEGAS -- Tom Thibodeau says he has "no regrets" about his five-season tenure as coach of the Chicago Bulls. In his first comments to Chicago media since being fired on May 28, Thibodeau remained steadfast in his handling of the team and the success the organization had during his time as coach.

"I have no regrets," Thibodeau said after the first day of USA Basketball's minicamp. "I have no regrets. Every year you look at what you did. You try to analyze the things you did well, the things that you'd like to improve upon. I think you always want to try and get better; you never want to stay the same. From that standpoint, I don't think I'll change. I thought I learned each year I was there, and I'm looking forward to whatever comes next."

Thibodeau, who compiled a 255-139 regular-season record during his time with the Bulls, was reflective as he answered questions from the media.

"It was a great run," Thibodeau said. "I had a great staff. I enjoyed them. The players were terrific. My whole experience there was great. In pro sports, [getting fired] happens. You move on. You look back and I'd rather reflect on the positives than think about any negatives, because the good far outweighed any bad. ... I'm very proud of what we accomplished. To win the games that we did, to deal with the adversity that we did. We dealt with [point guard] Derrick [Rose] and his injuries. We survived that; we lost players along the way. But we always found a way to compete, and I'm very proud of that. I thought we had a great group of guys."

Thibodeau did not go into detail when asked about his reaction to Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf's statement on the day Thibodeau was fired. Reinsdorf said, in part, "The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. 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," the statement continued. "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."

"I have no reaction to that," Thibodeau said of Reinsdorf's statement. "My experience there was great. I appreciated all that the players did for me. I appreciate the opportunity that Jerry gave me. I'm moving on, they're moving on. I wish them well. I think if they're healthy they could have a great season next year, and I hope they do because of the closeness I have to all the players that are still there."

When asked if he was surprised by the decision the Bulls made to fire him, Thibodeau responded by saying, "I'm never surprised by anything."

The veteran coach said he is "hopeful" about finding another job next summer and left open the possibility of being a coach while having some managerial decision-making ability as well, if asked.

"I'm not closing my mind to anything, so everything's a possibility," he said when asked about a dual role like Stan Van Gundy has with the Detroit Pistons. "I just want to make sure it's a good fit, and that's what I'm looking for."

Thibodeau handled questions well and acknowledged that he planned to stay in Chicago for the foreseeable future because of how much he enjoyed the city. He wanted to "let the record speak for itself" and was proud of what his players were able to accomplish, both on an individual and team basis, while also noting he felt that best team he had during his tenure was the one that went to the Eastern Conference finals during the 2010-11 season, his first with the Bulls.

He defended himself on the notion from many within the league that he wore out some of his players over time by having them play heavy minutes.

"The numbers say exactly what it is," Thibodeau said. "Facts are facts. If you look at it statistically, you see that Jimmy [Butler] played the same amount of minutes that LeBron [James] played. He played the same amount of minutes that [Kevin] Durant played, Nicolas Batum, Carmelo Anthony, all those guys, so that's all I'm saying. Nobody's going to be perfect. You don't get every decision right [that] you make. Some are wrong, but I thought I was very proud of what the team did."

In the short term, Thibodeau seems content to work for Team USA and travel when he can.

"I think when you're around it, you know that [being fired] could be a possibility," he said. "I think the important thing is to try and take advantage of it in a positive way. You recharge, you visit with people, it gives you an opportunity to do some things that you normally don't do. Visit with not only the coaches here, but the coaches overseas, things like that, so that's what I'm looking forward to. All sports, actually, just to visit with coaches."

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