Emanuel not a happy camper about Thibodeau firing

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Rahm Emanuel may have a soft spot for Benny the Bull, but he’s not too happy that the Bulls organization fired Tom Thibodeau. | Getty Images File Photo

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tom Thibodeau is a “great coach” the Bulls were “fortunate to have” and he’s got a graffiti “blaster I’d like to use” on whomever was responsible for Thibodeau’s firing.

“I have a lot to say. You know what? I have a blaster I would like to use right now,” the mayor said.

Emanuel refused to identify the intended graffiti blaster target after a news conference at 1511 West Fulton to tout improvements in city response times to requests for graffiti removal.

But it was clearly front-office personnel he holds responsible for Thibodeau’s firing.

“There’s a lot I want to unburden myself on,” the mayor said when asked about the changing of the guard at the Bulls.

“I’ll say this: I’ve been in regular communication over the past weeks with Coach T and I think he’s a great coach.”

Pressed on whether he believes Thibodeau got a “raw deal,” Emanuel said, “I think he’s a great coach. We were fortunate to have him.”

Does that mean the Bulls are “unfortunate” to no longer have Thibodeau as their coach?

“I think you can conclude [that] from what I said,” the mayor said.

Emanuel is a die-hard Bulls fan who clearly sides with Thibodeau in the power struggle with Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and John Paxson, Bulls vice president of basketball operations.

But Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has clearly sided with Paxson and Forman in a statement accusing Thibodeau of departing from an “organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued.”

The mayor doesn’t believe it’s his place to second-guess the front office. Nor does he want to embarrass Reinsdorf, an Emanuel campaign contributor.

Emanuel has enough problems grappling with the Illinois General Assembly, whose help he needs to solve the $30 billion pension crisis at the city and public schools that has dropped Chicago’s bond rating to junk status.

Although Emanuel could not hide his feelings about the Bulls, he spoke a lot more freely about the Blackhawks’ do-or-die win in Game 6 of the NHL’s Western Conference Finals that forced a deciding Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night in California.

“It was a great game. Obviously, there were the three [Hawks] goals, then it was 3-2. But the fourth goal was a time in which you could actually let your breath out and breathe in again in a calming manner,” the mayor said.

Emanuel said defenseman extraordinaire Duncan Keith, who saved at least one goal and assisted on two others, “doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.”


Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, a campaign contributor, at the United Center earlier this year to announce a new office building would be constructed next to the arena. Emanuel on Thursday criticized the Bulls for firing head coach Tom Thibodeau. | Sun-Times File Photo

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