(Reuters) - The Chicago Bulls introduced Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg as their head coach on Tuesday, and the new helmsman said he had his heart set on a return to the National Basketball Association.
Hoiberg played 10 seasons in the NBA, including four with the Bulls, before a heart ailment ended to his playing career.
After serving in the front office of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves he became head coach at Iowa State and compiled a 115-56 record with the Cyclones that included four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
“The pinnacle for coaches is the NBA,” Hoiberg, 42, told a Bulls news conference six weeks after having open heart surgery.
General manager Gar Forman, who has known Hoiberg for some 20 years, was confident he had the right man for the job.
“A big part of coaching is the human element ... getting guys to buy in to play together, to play hard, to accept roles and to put them in the right system. We have 100 percent confidence that Fred’s going to be able to do that,” he said.
Hoiberg had a pacemaker implanted and had to give up playing, but functioned well until needing to replace an aortic valve in April. He said his health issues were behind him.
”If there was a danger in me doing this, I wouldn’t have taken this job,“ said the Iowa native. ”My first heart surgery was due to having an aneurism in my aorta and I was very lucky to find out about it.
“Once they removed the diseased tissue that problem was over.”
Hoiberg replaces Tom Thibodeau, who was fired last week after five seasons that produced five trips to the postseason but an acrimonious relationship with the front office.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue