Gar Forman’s well-deserved award


Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman and Miami Heat President Pat Riley are co-recipients of the 2010-11 NBA Executive of the Year award, the NBA announced today.

In his 13th season with Chicago and second as its general manager, Forman saw the Bulls win a league-best 62 games, rookie coach Tom Thibodeau earn the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2010-11 NBA Coach of the Year, and Derrick Rose become the youngest player to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 2010-11 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player. Forman transformed a 41-win Bulls team by signing free agents Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver among others.

Forman and Riley received each received 11 of a possible 30 votes from a panel of their fellow team executives throughout the NBA. The Bulls’ John Paxson finished third with three votes and San Antonio’s R.C. Buford finished fourth with two votes. Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, New Jersey’s Billy King and New York’s Donnie Walsh received one vote each.

I don’t mean to take anything away from Pat Riley. He cleared a lot of cap space to sign Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James last summer. But he was also exceptionally fortunate that those guys wanted to play together. And, as far as we can tell (although it may never be proven), that had much more to do with the players than it did with Riley.

Meanwhile, Forman cleared cap space just like Riley did, only he had to endure and recover from rejection by all three of those players. Seriously, Forman (with Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson) went all in to sign James, Wade and/or Bosh…and got none of them. Yet he still managed to go out and acquire exactly the right mix of players to surround MVP Derrick Rose with. Oh, and he also brought in Tom Thibodeau, who won the Coach of the Year award.

The numbers don’t lie: 62 wins. Best in the league. Despite losing out on Options A, B and C. What’s more, with the way some of the new contracts were structured — specifically Brewer’s, Korver’s and Watson’s — Forman gave the team future cap flexibility (in theory depending on the new CBA).

Gar also made a midseason trade (James Johnson to the Raptors for a future round draft pick) so he could go after O.J. Mayo before the trade deadline. That deal didn’t pan out, apparently because Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley doesn’t like doing business with the Bulls, but it shows the kind of savvy team building Forman is trying to accomplish.

Forman’s moves have been both good for the team and smart from a financial standpoint. Again, no offense to Riley, but having three great players (and two of the top five in the game) decide they want to team up in one of the country’s most beautiful (and party-centric) cities is at least part luck. And a big part. Forman’s job was much more difficult.

Whatever the case, at least Gar gets a share of the award. It’s well deserved.


10 Responses to Gar Forman’s well-deserved award

    Jake in Minnie May 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Yes, there was a lot less “GarPax” bashing on the boards this year.

  2. Herbert May 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    How come they are able to split up the votes for Gar/Pax. Shouldn’t the Bulls front office just received the full share of the award, considering that they all worked together and received 14 votes vs Rileys 11???

    ruby May 12, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Gar deserves the recognition that he has received this year. The comments left by Miami fans over at ESPN are hilarious though… they are so pissed off that Riley didn’t win outright. Apparently, being lucky enough to have Dwayne Wade convince his buddies to join the Heat somehow makes Riley Exec of the Year. All Gar has done is build a deep (62-win) team around D-Rose and hire the COY. Who had to put more thought and work into building his team? Gar. And whose team performed better in the regular season? Gar’s. I don’t see how it’s even an issue. That said, if Riley had won outright, I wouldn’t care – I’m happy with our team right now. It’s embarrassing for Miami, the way some of their fans are whining about Gar sharing the award.

    Raphael May 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    What you fail to understand is that your reasoning for Forman being Exec of the Year is really the reason for Thibodeau to be coach of the year.

    Executives are judged on what talent they can bring to their team, coaches are judged on how they utilize that talent to win games.

    The summer of 2010 was one of the biggest in free-agency history, and both executives tried to go for the same objective, and one got all three to play together and take less money to bring other players. In theory, Miller was one of the best pick ups as a role-player, and retaining Udonis Haslem when he was offer much more elsewhere shouldn’t be underestimated despite the season-long injury.

    They threw a bone at the Bulls executive, but it should be clear what executives should be judged on and in my biased eyes (yet trying to stay objective), Riley crushed every single GM for this free-agency, he hauled in two of the three best players in the league, the rest is up to Coach Spo.

  5. Michael May 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm #


    Wait, you’re saying that signing Mike Miller was one of the reasons Riley should have won. That signing alone should have disqualified him.

    Ignarus May 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I’m ok with the award being given out as it was, but it seems a little suspect to me that Rose was given the MVP to credit him for taking his team with all its warts to 62 wins, Thibs was given COY for making his team so good on D that they got 62 wins, and now they’re getting Exec awards for putting together the fantastic team that won 62 times despite having no superstar FAs sign with them.

    That’s too many people getting superlative awards for having a 62 win season. Not everyone deserves a ____ of the year award for getting a few wins more than the next best regular season team. I know it’s three different sets of voters and they all want to congratulate the Bulls for doing better than expected, but the totality of the awards sweep seems outsized relative to what actually happened.

    Was the Bulls’ regular season victory pie really THAT big? I’d agree with Thibs and I’m ok with Rose, but if I’m alright with those two, there’s no way management gets to take full credit for the Bulls’ pleasant surprise as well.

    Maybe exec of the year would be deserved…

    …IF Thibs hadn’t been the architect of Boston’s championship defense and they’d pulled him from obscurity…
    …IF the Bulls hadn’t been underperforming to begin with under the reign of the… um… illustrious Vinny Del Negro…
    …IF the best player on the team hadn’t fallen into Chicago’s lap by freakish draft luck as a clear cut #1 pick…
    …IF *THE* Carlos Boozer hadn’t been the centerpiece of their offseason acquisitions (after being rejected by everyone else!)…

    Dunno why I’m writing so much about this. Too much coffee and procrastinating, I’d guess. I really don’t have super-strong feelings about this, it just seems like too much. Thibs deserved COY for installing a top defense and encouraging his players to shoot 3s, Rose is definitely a player worth celebrating, and the Bulls’ front office did decently – Asik was a great draft pick and they looted the Jazz free agent pile pretty well.

    Ignarus May 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Your time signatures are 4 hours off. It’s weird, but inconsequential.

    Ignarus May 12, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    BTW – any idea how often an organization gets 3 levels of credit for the season — MVP, COY, and EOY?

    I think Mike Brown got COY in one of Lebron’s MVP years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike D’Antoni got a COY in one of Nash’s MVP years also.

    pete May 13, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    NBA awards are the best comedy ever.

    Derick Rose better defender than D.wade, do even the chicago fans believe that?
    Derick rose MVP is he better than lebron?
    Coach of the year, sam mitchell won that. Popovich had the best record with crappy old players.

    The reality is that the NBA is about who wins in the playoffs, not in the regular season. And, the young bulls are not really impressing so far. You know why? Because riley builds his team for the post season not the regular season.

    Hence why the bulls are struggling with the hawks and pacers. You may be a brainwashed chicago fan, but even those incredibly close games with indiana didnt go down well.

    I say vote for all those after the championships to see who ultimately made the right moves. If chicago wins the championship then display those trophies with pride. If they get their behinds handed to them by the heat please just hand them over.

    fulton May 15, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Riley still had to clear cap spaces to be able to sign all 3 of them though, and Mike Miller, who James was drooling to have on his team.

    So yeah, Riley deserved to win it, if not more, as much as Forman.

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