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Looking back at Pop’s opposing head coaches- Bulls edition

The Bulls have spent most of their time flailing since Phil Jackson left

Chicago Bulls v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

As mentioned previously, an article entitled “Pop’s Incredible Longevity” revealed that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has coached against 307 different NBA coaches during his twenty-eight year tenure at the helm.

Since the firing of Bob Hill in 1996, Pop has consistently coached the Spurs, give or take an ejection or two. Tonight the Spurs play the Chicago Bulls.

Phil Jackson was smackdab in the middle of his second three-peat with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman when Pop took over the Spurs. Jackson was there from 1989-1998. He’d then move to Los Angeles and battle against Pop and the Spurs for another eleven seasons.

Tim Floyd (1998-20020) ushered in the post-dynasty era with the three worst season in Bulls history. He resigned on Christmas eve during his fourth season, leaving assistant Bill Berry to serve as interim coach for two games, followed by fellow assistant Bill Cartwright for the remainder of the season.

Cartwright’s 2002-2003 campaign yielded a 32-50 record. He started the 2003-2004 season but he was fired after a 4-10 start. Pete Myers served for two games before Scott Skiles finished the season.

Skiles continued 2004-2007 with three seasons of playoff berths. The 9-16 start to the 2007-2008 season provided Jon Paxson with the ammunition to show him the door. Myers once again covered, but just for a game, before assistant Jim Boylan completed the season.

Ex-Spurs guard Vinny Del Negro (2008-2010) took his first stab at head coaching with back-to-back break even seasons where the Bulls were eliminated from the postseason in the first round.

Tom Thibodeau (2010-2015) offered the most consistency and success since Phil Jackson’s departure. Each of his five seasons featured a winning record and sent the Bulls to the postseason.

Fred Hoiberg (2015-December 2018) had three rough seasons following in Thib’s footsteps. He was fired after a 5-19 start to 2018, leaving former Spurs assistant Jim Boylen (not to be confused with the aforementioned Jim Boylan) to complete the season. Boylen stayed on 2019-2020, but the shortened pandemic season yielded a 22-43 record and his departure.

Since 2020, Billy Donovan has been the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are currently on the outside looking in for a playoff berth, so expect them to come out swinging tonight.

For those keeping count, that’s thirteen coaching changes, with twelve coaches, only ten of whom even faced off against Pop. Donovan and Pop have been going at it quite a while as Billy was in OKC before his current post.

Go Spurs Go!


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