Forman honored for building this season’s Bulls


May 10

Bulls GM Gar Forman admits he didn’t expect to win NBA Executive of the Year, which the league announced Tuesday he will share with Miami Heat president Pat Riley.

“I was truly honored and unbelievably humbled when I found out I received this award,” said Forman prior to Game 5. “What’s meaningful to me about the award is that it’s my peers that voted on the award. For them to recognize the steps forward that our team has taken means a lot to me. It’s my belief, and I truly believe this, that this award is a team honor.”

Forman and Riley each received 11 of a possible 30 votes from a panel of their fellow team executives throughout the NBA. But had he gotten the three votes his colleague, John Paxson, received instead, he could have—should have?—won it outright.

Forman laughed when asked if he’d hold that against Paxson, with whom he works in tandem on a daily basis, before turning serious.

“This is a team award,” said Forman, with his wife, Leslie, and sons, Braeden and Jaxsen, in attendance. “Our entire front office has got a piece of it and I’m just happy if there are votes given, the Chicago Bulls are getting votes. That means we’re doing something right.”

As for Paxson, Forman couldn’t be more appreciative of the opportunity to work together.

“John has been my biggest supporter,” Forman said of Paxson. “He’s a great basketball mind, but he’s even a better person. John has left a great imprint on this team and organization and I’m very thankful to him.”

Forman was extremely gracious in expressing his gratitude to a multitude of front office employees, but he saved his highest praise for his players.

“Our players have been incredible to be around this year,” said Forman. “Their work ethic, character and play on the floor have been the biggest part of any success we’ve had up to this point.”

Forman also credited Jerry Reinsdorf, saying his “leadership and vision make him the best owner in pro sports,” as well as Michael Reinsdorf, the team’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

He also acknowledged the work done by NBA Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and his staff.

“Tom has done an incredible job with this basketball team,” said Forman. “I believe Tom has laid a foundation that is going to serve this team well for many years to come.

“I think our players were dying for that type of accountability and discipline,” Forman added.

After winning 41 games in each of the last two seasons, the Bulls improved to an NBA-best 62-21 this year. Aside from Thibodeau’s wildly successful head coaching debut, Derrick Rose also showed exponential growth and earned NBA MVP honors.

Aside from the hiring of Thibodeau, Forman and the Bulls basketball operations staff made its mark last summer when the most decorated class of free agents hit the market.

“In a lot of cases, free agency can be fool’s gold,” said Forman. “But it was our belief that this summer was so unusual and there were such a large number of quality free agents, that obviously it was our plan to create room and flexibility going into the summer. We felt that was the best avenue to take as far as improving our basketball team. Obviously, we were happy with how it turned out at the end of the day.”

While Riley’s Heat landed the star of the summer, LeBron James, as well as re-signing Dwyane Wade and adding Chris Bosh, the Bulls fared well too, adding Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver among others.

Forman acknowledged that all of those moves were based in part around one person in particular—Derrick Rose—and that a premium was placed on character and work ethic.

“One of the advantages that we have is that we’re not in a position now where we’re just acquiring talent,” explained Forman. “We’re trying to build a basketball team and we had a core of players back we were building around. And it starts with Derrick Rose. Any decisions that we made this last year and decisions that we make moving forward, whether it’s free agency, draft or trade, one of the first questions, if not the first question we ask, is does it fit Derrick Rose?”

Forman is the second Bulls GM to win the award, with Jerry Krause having claimed it twice (1987-88 and 1995-96).

Audio—NBA Executive of the Year Gar Forman meets the media (05.10.2011):

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