CHICAGO – Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, “won” the biggest free-agent bonanza in NBA history when he got LeBron James and Chris Bosh to sign with his team, while getting Dwyane Wade to re-up rather than leave. Gar Forman, general manager of the Chicago Bulls, went after both James and Wade, then had to turn his attention and salary-cap space to Carlos Boozer and a group of role players on the open market.
But Forman’s team managed to win the most games in the NBA (62), while producing 2010-11’s Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year. That was good enough to earn Forman a share of the NBA Executive of the Year Award, sharing the honor with Miami’s Riley.
Forman and Riley each received 11 votes. Chicago’s vice president of basketball operations, John Paxson, was third with three votes in balloting of the 30 teams’ executives. So Forman was correct in calling it a “team award” — the Chicago front office combined for 14 votes.
His most satisfying move heading into this season? “The decision to hire [coach] Tom Thibodeau has been a grand slam,” said Forman, who has been with the Bulls for 13 seasons and moved into his current post in May 2009. “Tom has been a perfect fit for this team. Our players were dying for that type of accountability and discipline.”