Derrick Rose won his MVP hardware last week. Debated, but certainly deserved. Tom Thibodeau won his Coach of the Year award the week before that. Most assuredly deserved. Pat Riley deserved the Executive of the Year trophy, but yet he has to share it with Gar Forman?
The Bulls had a remarkable year, and have reaped the benefits and accolades of such. But Executive of the Year is for improving your team, on-court, from one year to the next. Hiring Thibodeau off Doc Rivers’ assistant’s chair was a fantastic move, but Rose — already officially recognized as the on-court catalyst for Chicago’s 21-game improvement — has been wearing red since 2008. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, the next two most important cogs in the Bulls engine, have spent the entirety of their careers with the team as well, from 2004 and 2007, respectively.
What Forman accomplished from a player personnel standpoint this year certainly helped, but was not anywhere near the driving force behind the 2010-2011 Bulls. There’s a pretty sweet reward for what they managed to accomplish, and it’s called “home court advantage” throughout the entire postseason.
Chicago’s front office went to Akron over the summer to try to lure LeBron James. Pat Riley succeeded. The Bulls flew Dwyane Wade to Chicago (his hometown!) more than once, hoping he’d sign with them. Pat Riley kept him. Needing a big man, Chicago brought Chris Bosh into town as well, praying that they could at least save face and snag the third option in the free agent class. Pat Riley convinced him, too, to take his talents to South Beach.
Compare that to the NBA’s own press release announcing the split award. “Forman transformed a 41-win Bulls team by signing free agents Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver among others.” Let’s do the math on this. By John Hollinger’s Estimated Wins Added, the Heat triumverate provided 58 wins worth of value — not surprisingly, looking at the rest of the Miami roster, the exact number of wins the team chalked up this season. Chicago’s offseason Big Three managed 12 wins, and the non-contributions of most of the “among others” referred to by the league actually brings down that total.
By virtue of his player acquisitions, Forman doesn’t even come close to earning his share of this award. So either Tom Thibodeau is worth more to a team than Bron, Wade and Bosh, or the jury of his peers are merely voting for a top team that wasn’t supposed to be this good — which they already did with Rose and Thibs. Granted, this is wholly unimportant, and both executives and franchises have more to focus on in the coming days and weeks. There’s a good chance that these well-executed teams will be facing each other next round, for a chance to reach the NBA finals. Assuming Chicago makes it past the Hawks in what is now a best-of-three series, I have the Heat in six.