Hoiberg says he's ready for 'highest level' with Bulls
Fred Hoiberg has been known as "The Mayor" in Ames, Iowa, for more than 20 years.
In the rest of the world, he didn't always catch on.
When he played for the Bulls from 1999-2003, Hoiberg told a story about waiting for his luggage during a trip to Hawaii. When Hoiberg's personalized Chicago Bulls duffle bag popped onto the carousel, a bystander excitedly remarked, "Hey, a Bulls player is on this flight."
A few seconds later, when Hoiberg reached over and grabbed his bag, the same person said, "Oh, I guess not."
Maybe a desire for a bigger stage is a reason Hoiberg will step down as Iowa State head coach and head back to the NBA.
The Bulls will introduce Hoiberg, 42, as their next coach on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Advocate Center.
Before boarding a private jet to Chicago on Monday afternoon in Ames, Hoiberg spoke briefly to reporters that had gathered at the airport.
"This is one of my life goals, to coach in that league," Hoiberg said. "This was one (job opportunity) that was very interesting to me, just because I played there. It's a great organization. I've got connections in that organization. So we'll see how tonight goes."
Apparently, those meetings with the Bulls went well Monday, but all the heavy negotiations were complete before Hoiberg arrived in Chicago. According to multiple reports, Hoiberg is expected to get a five-year deal worth $25 million.
The Bulls still owe roughly $9 million to former coach Tom Thibodeau, although that figure could drop if Thibodeau takes another NBA coaching job. Hoiberg was the overwhelming favorite to get the job when Thibodeau was fired last Thursday, and the Bulls moved quickly to make it official.
Those connections to the organization Hoiberg mentioned include general manager Gar Forman, who was an assistant coach at Iowa State during Hoiberg's senior year in college in 1994-95. When he played for the Bulls, Hoiberg had more chances to get to know Forman, a scout in those years, and executive vice president John Paxson, part of the radio announcing team back then.
Forman and Paxson are hoping their familiarity with Hoiberg will bring a smoother relationship between the coaching staff and front office. The tension between Thibodeau and the Bulls' management team was well-documented.
"I would never have left Iowa State for another college job," Hoiberg said Monday. "I got some advice several years ago from somebody that had gotten contact from the highest level (NBA) and just talked to them about the process. How do you go about making those decisions?
"Put a list down of potential situations that you would leave for. So that's what you maybe do, and do those opportunities ever come about? Sometimes no, they don't."
Hoiberg had three runs of success in Ames. He was a multisport star at Ames High School, then resisted an offer from Stanford to play college basketball at Iowa State.
After playing 10 years in the NBA and spending five seasons in basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he returned to Iowa State as head coach. During five seasons, Hoiberg posted a 115-56 record and led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
Hoiberg will be a first-time NBA coach, but the Bulls are hoping to replicate the success of Golden State. The Warriors fired a relatively successful coach, Mark Jackson, last year and hired a first-time coach as a replacement, former Bulls shooting guard Steve Kerr. Golden State won 67 games and reached the NBA Finals for the first time in 30 years.
One trait to expect from Hoiberg is a greater reliance on the 3-point shot. Last year Iowa State averaged 21.4 attempts from 3-point range in the 40-minute college game, compared to the Bulls' 22.3 attempts in 48 minutes.
The Bulls are hoping to develop their young 3-point shooters -- Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic and Tony Snell. Like Hoiberg, McDermott attended Ames High School. In fact, when Hoiberg took the Iowa State job, he replaced McDermott's father, Greg, who left for Creighton.
"One thing about Coach Fred is he has an open-door policy," former Iowa State player Melvin Ejim said in the Des Moines Register. "As players, you always have opportunities to go in and talk to him, express yourself, and basically talk to him like you're talking to your brother."
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