DEERFIELD, Ill. -- After 18 years as the guy making suggestions to head coaches, Tom Thibodeau will finally get the chance to be the one making the decisions.
The Chicago Bulls introduced Thibodeau as the 18th coach in franchise history on Wednesday, an opportunity he called "a dream come true."
The longtime NBA assistant, who spent the past three seasons with the Boston Celtics, agreed to a three-year deal earlier this month, but the Bulls and the NBA agreed to wait until after the NBA Finals were over to make the hiring official.
Thibodeau's Celtics lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
"It's been a whirlwind but it's been very exciting," Thibodeau said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Obviously, there was the disappointment of a Game 7 loss, but immediately the next day my thoughts started turning to the Bulls and getting started, getting things off the ground here. Obviously I'm very excited about that, and I'm looking forward to working with all the players."
Thibodeau, who was the architect for the Celtics' defense and is credited with helping develop players such as Rajon Rondo and Yao Ming, takes over a Bulls team led by one of the NBA's best point guards in Derrick Rose. And with plenty of cap space, the Bulls might also give Thibodeau one of the best players in the game if they can sign LeBron James when free agency opens on July 1.
"There's a lot to sell here: the rich tradition of this organization, a great city, a great young nucleus to build around so there is so much to offer," Thibodeau said. "I can't imagine why any free agent wouldn't seriously consider this team."
Prior to his stint in Boston, Thibodeau served as an assistant in Minnesota, San Antonio, Philadelphia, New York and Houston.
"I've been very fortunate. I've worked for some great head coaches: Doc Rivers, Jeff Van Gundy," Thibodeau said. "I kept firing ideas and suggestions at them. Did they use all of them? No. But [now he] is making the final decision. That's the big difference in the positions."
General manager Gar Forman said the Bulls would be thorough in their search which began after they fired Vinny Del Negro on May 3, but it didn't take long for him to feel confident about Thibodeau.
"As we entered this search again, the first weeks or so we gathered an enormous amount of information on a number of candidates," Forman said. "Even at that point it was pretty clear to us, as far as some of the things we were looking for, that Tom was a fit. Actually, the very first person I called was Tom and that was about five or six days into the process. We talked a number of times, but his schedule was extremely busy.
"A couple of times we had set something up and then their schedule had changed because of what was happening in the playoffs. But we were in communication the entire time. Once we got a chance to sit down with Tom and he had a chance to share his vision and some of his ideas, to us it was a natural [fit]."
Thibodeau drew praise from his former Celtics players for his dedication and work ethic. That doesn't figure to change when he begins work for the Bulls.
"I'm a pretty serious-minded coach but I'd like to think that I'll be well-prepared," Thibodeau said. "I think I will give this team a good plan. I think I'm fair. I believe in having great relationships with the players. I'm going to build an environment that they feel very comfortable with. They know when they come to work it's going to be serious but enjoyable. They are going to feel that when they take the court they're going to have a good plan and that they can be very successful."
Thibodeau replaces Del Negro, who had an 82-82 record in two seasons with the Bulls.
Thibodeau's deal is worth approximately $6.5 million, with two years guaranteed plus a team option, according to multiple media reports.