Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau have experienced both the good and bad in the city of Chicago. During the 2010-11 season, things could not get much better for the Chicago Bulls duo.
Thibodeau won the Coach of the Year Award in just his first season as the Bulls’ head coach, and Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history. The Bulls ended up advancing all the way to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since the Michael Jordan era before they were eliminated by the Miami Heat in five games.
Despite losing to the Heat, things looked very bright for the Bulls with Thibodeau and Rose leading the way.
However, things did not go quite as smoothly next season. The Bulls still finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and were rewarded with the no. 1 seed in the 2012 playoffs. Their first-round opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls were a heavy favorite in this matchup, and all was going well until the end of the fourth quarter.
Despite Chicago having a comfortable double-digit lead in the closing minutes of the final quarter, Thibodeau elected to keep his starters in the game in typical fashion. With less than two minutes left, Rose drove to the basket like he had done so many times before, but this time something went terribly wrong. Rose landed awkwardly on his left leg and went down in pain. The result: a torn ACL.
Bulls fans were sickened after they heard the news that Rose would be out indefinitely, and to make matters worse, Chicago ended up losing that series.
For the first time since coming to Chicago, Thibodeau’s strategy was both questioned and criticized by many. When you have the best record in the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons, people don’t seem to notice some of your controversial tendencies such as keeping your starters in during the fourth quarter of a secured victory.
Once Rose went down, however, fingers started to point in Thibodeau’s direction as he received quite a bit of criticism. However, none of that criticism came from Rose as he never questioned his coach’s decision to keep him in the game.
After Rose tore his ACL, it was originally reported that he would be out for around six months and return sometime shortly after the All-Star Game. Rose was indeed medically cleared to play around the six-month period, but opted to sit out the entire year. Suddenly, Rose was the subject to great amounts of criticism as fans and members of the media believed that he was being selfish and letting his team down by choosing not to play.
One person who was by his side and supported his decision the entire time was his coach, Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau stood by his statement that “We have more than enough to win” throughout the entire season as he supported Rose’s decision to take the year off.
Just last week, Thibodeau once again showed support towards his star point guard by proclaiming that Rose’s critics had no idea what they were talking about last season. This is just another example of coach Thibodeau having Rose’s back through thick and thin.
Expectations are quite high for the Bulls this season, but there are still many questions that need to be answered regarding this Bulls team. Will they be able to stay healthy throughout the course of the entire season? Will Rose return to MVP form? Will Luol Deng’s future in Chicago be a distraction to the team?
Regardless of what happens in Chicago this season, there is one constant: the strong relationship between coach Thibodeau and Derrick Rose.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @Jkell2005