Fred Hoiberg’s charming folksiness only will get him so far in Chicago

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New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg didn’t have an answer for how the Bulls can get past LeBron James. “Ooh, boy,” he said. | AP

It’ll be just dandy with me if I don’t hear anything about Iowa State basketball for a spell.

New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg went on and on Tuesday at the Advocate Center about the college team he coached for five years before leaving to take a five-year, $25 million gig in Chicago.

It’s understandable Hoiberg, 42, wanted to thank the school’s athletic director, the wonderful players he recruited, his assistants and the department staff, the school presidents (two), the media members (quite a few who trundled in for this news conference) and everybody west of the Mississippi who made his and his family’s lives so wonderful in Ames for the last half-decade.

But this is the big city, and, frankly, we don’t give a damn.

No offense. I grew up in Peoria, surrounded by cornfields and Bradley basketball. But Chicagoans care as much about that as they do sand lizards — and rightly so. This is big-time Chicago, worthy of junk-bond status, and we need fixes. Quick.

The Bulls aren’t exactly broken, but they could use fixin’. Fast. Before this roster disappears and rebuilding starts.

I’m sorry, but those betrayed Cyclones boosters, saddened players and Ames townsfolk are just exhaust in the rearview mirror. Otherwise, Hoiberg should have stayed in a place that loved him, where he played college ball, where his $2 million-per-year salary could buy him more Yorkshire hogs than you can shake a soybean at.

But he’s here, and old coach Tom Thibodeau is gone. And this hiring only has been in the works for, what, almost a year?

So let’s hear how the Bulls can progress. Let’s hear about the plan to get to the NBA Finals. Let’s hear about winning it all.

‘‘I love this roster,’’ Hoiberg finally said. ‘‘I absolutely love this roster.’’

If you love a roster, you should win with it. And here’s one more place where courtesy comes to a halt.

I asked Hoiberg if he remembered how Michael Jordan and Co. destroyed the hopes and dreams of so many teams in the 1990s, particularly those of the Cavaliers, who had a great team built around Mark Price, John ‘‘Hot Rod’’ Williams and Brad Daugherty. Now LeBron James and the Cavs are the brutes, the destroyers.

‘‘Any specific plans to get past that immense hurdle?’’ I asked.

‘‘Ooh, boy,’’ he said.

Correct. We no longer are preparing for TCU or Baylor.

‘‘LeBron is obviously the best player in the game right now,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘He does so many great things. . . . Yeah, that’s something that I wouldn’t make that answer right now, how we would get by him.’’

Fair enough.

Hoiberg is smart. He needs time to get his NBA feet back. After all, he played 10 seasons in the league and was in a front office for four.

A look around the gym was instructive. There were a few Bulls players. There was general manager Gar Forman, sitting at the table with Hoiberg. There

was salary-cap expert Irwin Mandel, standing in the back. There was chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, watching from the far left. But where was vice president of basketball operations John Paxson?

Nowhere to be seen.

Hoiberg is his guy. No doubt Paxson, a two-time academic All-American at Notre Dame, sees some of himself in Hoiberg, who is bright and driven and was a shooting guard.

Paxson clearly didn’t see such in Thibodeau, and the buzzword was ‘‘communication.’’ Like, the lack of it. Like, Thibs was stubborn and Paxson couldn’t control him or even guide him.

Reinsdorf trashed Thibodeau in his goodbye statement: ‘‘Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this [communication] culture.’’

He used the passive voice, but he meant only one guy: Thibs.

Hoiberg has 20 times the social skills of Thibodeau, but does he have even twice the coaching edge?

Rookie coach Steve Kerr is doing just fine with the Warriors, now in the NBA Finals. And former college coach Brad Stevens has done well with the Celtics. But other rookie coaches have failed miserably. Mike Montgomery and Lon Kruger come to mind.

Hoiberg might be just what the Bulls need, but he comes in needing to undo every player’s loyalty to a coach who won 62 games in his first season with

the team.

Can Hoiberg win 62 games ever?

Paxson wasn’t around, but he must think so.


Twitter: @ricktelander

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