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There are no winners in the Chicago Bulls' feud with Tom Thibodeau

It's finally over.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago was stuck in the middle of its coldest winter ever when the Bulls flew down to Orlando for a game against the Magic in January of 2014. The Bulls were two games under .500 at the time and had traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers about 10 days earlier. It was the type of seemingly insignificant game that defines the middle of the NBA's marathon regular season, but it sticks in my head even 18 months later.

This was the first time it seemed like unless the Bulls somehow made it to the NBA Finals, Tom Thibodeau's days in Chicago were ultimately numbered.

You might remember this game for a few different reasons. There was a braided Tony Snell driving to the lane to put down an incredible one-handed dunk in overtime. There was 'Big Baby' Davis drilling a three-pointer in Joakim Noah's face to force double overtime. There was also Jimmy Butler logging 60 minutes, Noah playing 49 and Taj Gibson playing 43.

The Bulls won in triple OT, but it felt like the result didn't matter. Even in a January game against a team that would finish 23-59, Thibodeau only knew how to coach every game like it was Game 7.

Most people in this city have probably had a similar breaking point somewhere along the way during Thibodeau's five-year reign. Maybe it didn't come until the Bulls hit their January swoon this season; maybe you held out until the very last game of the year, when the Bulls rolled over and played dead against the Cavs in Game 6. Eventually, most people who care about this team a little too much reached a moment when they were OK with Thibodeau being let go.

There's only one problem. Now that it's finally happened, why does the entire situation feel so distressing and unjust?

Welcome to the weird world of the Chicago Bulls, where the front office only knows how to do business in ways that make everyone involved feel uncomfortable and offended. Follow this franchise long enough and you realize it's par for the course.

In the case of Thibodeau vs. the Bulls, we're talking about two sides that are so socially stunted and uncompromising that anyone paying attention should have been able to see the writing on the wall for years.

Thibodeau never forgave the Bulls for letting go of Kyle Korver and Omer Asik to save money. Management reportedly resented the fact that Thibodeau got credit for the development of the players they drafted. Thibodeau felt insulted by the organization imposing minutes restrictions, even if any other coach would have never seen those restrictions as a threat. The Bulls heard Jeff Van Gundy rip the franchise, and immediately thought Thibs put him up to it. These dudes are really strange all the way around.

In a sense, this is probably what happens when you put so many old, successful, wealthy men together in a business where each side has different ideas of how to do things. Thibs has the sixth highest winning percentage for any qualified coach; he was good at his job by any measure. The front office found Jimmy Butler at pick No. 30, Nikola Mirotic at No. 23, Taj Gibson at No. 26. Reinsdorf has been printing hundreds of millions off this team for two decades.

From the coach, to the front office, to the ownership, everyone here has a reason to believe their way is the right way to do things. The problem is that, with the Bulls, the organization consistently finds a way to act spiteful and arrogant and petty even when they're winning.

If someone wanted to write The Jordan Rules for the Thibodeau era, the opening scene would be easy enough to paint. Here's Tom Thibodeau moments after agreeing to a four-year contract extension, looking at the document on his desk and deciding he wasn't ready to sign it just yet. It sits there for six months. Who knows what drove his hesitation, but you can bet the bizarre way in which this organization always seems to do business played a crucial role.

It's impossible not to draw parallels back to the last time the Bulls were good, when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson won six championships.

Even back then, ownership was still cheap as hell: many of their problems came because they wouldn't renegotiate a contract Pippen had clearly out-performed. They were spiteful and jealous, too: instead of thanking the heavens for the good fortune that brought them Jordan, Krause said "players and coaching don't win championships; organizations win championships."

The mood around the team got so bad that Phil Jackson essentially called it quits before the 1998 season, making "The Last Dance" something of an unofficial team slogan. The Bulls would win another championship, but not even that could bring these people to work together for one more year.

It's hard to begrudge the Bulls for firing Thibodeau after the way they gave up this year. Even the players wanted him gone. It's hard to begrudge Thibs for feeling like the organization slighted him, especially when Van Gundy's words were thought to come out of his mouth. Look at what the Grizzlies did to Lionel Hollins and what the Nuggets did to George Karl, and you realize this isn't even all that irregular in today's NBA.

That begs just one question: why do the Bulls always have to make everything feel so shitty?