Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is missing big with his unjust treatment of Tom Thibodeau
The tribute to Joakim Noah at the United Center on Thursday is a reminder of the pettiness that Reinsdorf still harbors after all these years when it comes to Thibodeau, the second-best coach in franchise history.
The Bulls always have celebrated their warriors.
Whether it’s with a video tribute on a return to the United Center or with a special night to honor a player — a la Joakim Noah on Thursday — the organization prides itself on loyalty.
There’s one glaring problem, however: They’re forgetting the generals. In particular, former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s pettiness remains his Achilles’ heel.
Reinsdorf is the best sports owner Chicago has ever had, and he has seven championship trophies to prove it.
His critics might point to luck or great timing to put a dent on the hardware he has collected, but it falls on deaf ears. His teams won titles, and his nameplate was on the owner’s office door.
But in honoring Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Noah from those beloved 2010-2015 Bulls, he’s purposely snubbing the man who developed those players, put his team back on the map after the Michael Jordan era and, frankly, made him millions.
Thibodeau did all that but isn’t fit for a 45-second tribute video after all these years?
Sure, he was fired and didn’t leave under the best circumstances, but for a guy who practices and preaches loyalty — almost to a fault — Reinsdorf’s disloyalty to Thibodeau, the second-best coach in team history, is sinful.
Since he was fired, Thibodeau has had nothing but kind words for Reinsdorf, his son Michael and even former exec John Paxson publicly and privately.
Even when Reinsdorf tried to diminish Thibodeau as a coach and person in a statement after the firing, Thibodeau took the high road and thanked Reinsdorf for the chance. And he continues to do that to this day.
Reinsdorf is going to be 86 this February. He can start letting grudges go or dig his feet deeper into the mud.
The shame is he can afford really expensive boots.
As for Thibodeau, the Knicks’ coach was just grateful to be in attendance on the night Noah will be honored.
“I’m thrilled for him,’’ Thibodeau said Tuesday. “He’s a special guy, had an incredible career. That team resonated with the city, and Jo was the heart and soul of that team. When you watched his game, aesthetically his shot wasn’t pretty, but it went in. The beauty of his game was his effort, his heart, and he’d make three, four, five efforts on a play, and that’s special. He got the absolute most out of his ability.
“He was an emotional guy. I loved him; I fought with him. He’s a dear friend now, and that’s maybe the best part of coaching — the afterlife when there’s an appreciation for each other.’’
Maybe Reinsdorf will find that “appreciation’’ for Thibodeau.
Maybe there will be an “afterlife’’ between the two.
The general deserves that.