The Bulls added another trophy to their award-winning 2010-11 season when general manager Gar Forman was named co-winner of the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award. He shares the award with Miami Heat president Pat Riley.
Forman, who succeeded John Paxson as the Bulls’ general manager when Paxson was promoted to executive vice-president of basketball operations in May, 2009, revamped the Bulls’ roster after a 41-41 season under Vinny Del Negro in 2009-10.
Building around a core of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, Forman replaced 11 of the 15 players and hired Tom Thibodeau to replace Del Negro. The Bulls went 62-20 –the best record in the NBA — and are among the contenders in a wide-open playoff for the NBA championship.
Rose flourished under the defensive-minded Thibodeau and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award. Thibodeau won the Coach of the year Award. And Noah was named to the All-Defensive second team.
”It’s not just me,” Forman told the Sun-Times. ”Our whole staff works together. Everybody from our scouting staff to John [Paxson], Tom [Thibodeau] and the coaching staff, there’s constant communication.”
Forman and Paxson missed out on the biggest prize in free agency last summer — LeBron James, who signed with Riley and the Heat. But he signed Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans to fill starting roles and added Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik to fill roles off the bench. (Riley signed James and Chris Bosh andthe Heat improved from 47-35 to 58-24)
With Rose’s ascension to the NBA’s elite and Thibodeau’s steady, defensive-oriented hand, each of those additions have played key roles in the Bulls’ rise to title contention.
”I guess the biggest thing we’re proud of is that we’ve got the right kind of guys that represent the organization in a first-class manner,” Forman said. ”All of them are workers and professional and represent not only the organization, but the city of Chicago. [Bulls fans] appreciate guys who work and get after it every day.”
Forman was a relative unknown who had been with the Bulls in various player personnel functions since 1998 when he was tabbed to replace Paxson in 2009. He had been Paxson’s assistant and director of player personnel from 2004-09. He still shares authority on personnel matters with Paxson and doesn’t take the Bulls’ success this season as a personal accomplishment.
”The satisfaction that we all get is the level of success we’re having to this point,” Forman said. ”That we’re getting better and even more importantly, our future’s bright. We’re heading in the right direction.
”We’ve got a lot of really young players and I think this group is going to have a chance to grow together long-term. We’ve got four first-round picks the next two years, so we’ve got some flexibility with that, where we can continue to add some young players. That’s the satisfaction — that we’re heading in the right direction.”