Billy Donovan: Chance to Rebuild ‘Iconic’ Bulls Was ‘Very, Very Appealing’

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan yells at his players during the first half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Houston Rockets Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Even casual basketball fans know about the history of the Chicago Bulls.  

Michael Jordan is a global icon. Scottie Pippen is arguably the best No. 2 in a one-two punch in NBA history. Dennis Rodman is perhaps the greatest rebounder to ever play, and Phil Jackson is on the shortlist of the most legendary coaches.

Billy Donovan wants to rebuild that Bulls brand.

“I mean, it’s an iconic franchise, and certainly to be a part of trying to help build it back up was certainly very, very appealing and exciting,” the franchise’s new head coach said, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I know it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Woodyard noted executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas wasted no time pursuing Donovan after he and the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to part ways.

“Once he became available, we were relentless in terms of trying to find ways to continue communication and kind of to prove to Billy that we are the spot for him, a landing spot next,” Karnisovas said. “And we were able to do it.”

There is a reason Chicago was so eager to land Donovan. In addition to winning back-to-back national titles at the collegiate level with the Florida Gators, he led the Thunder to the playoffs in each of his five years at the helm. OKC went as far as the Western Conference Finals when he was the coach.

By contrast, the Bulls missed the playoffs in each of the last three years and were an ugly 22-43 during the 2019-20 campaign. They went 22-60 in 2018-19 and were one of the worst teams in the league under Jim Boylen.

Chicago has some promising pieces in place with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr., but it never came together under Boylen. Donovan is thrilled he will have the opportunity to lead the rebuilding of the “iconic” franchise as it attempts to rediscover its glory days with a new coach.



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