Fred Hoiberg coached a basketball game on Tuesday night. That fact in and of itself isn't particularly newsworthy. After all, Fred Hoiberg is a basketball coach and coaching games is what he does. But Tuesday marked the first time Hoiberg coached a team other than Iowa State (which is admittedly depressing as hell to type).
There are welcome to the NBA moments and then there's what Hoiberg encountered in the United Center as he made his Chicago Bulls coaching debut. As if squaring off against the best professional athlete on the planet in Lebron James wasn't enough, President Barack Obama sat courtside to take in the action.
Yet for as big as the evening was, Hoiberg showcased his typical calm demeanor throughout the game, sitting confidently stoic on the sidelines, allowing the athletes on the floor to play the game and decide the outcome. Even in the 4th quarter when Lebron started doing Lebron things, there Hoiberg was, patiently guiding the Bulls' attack.
So far, so good. Chicago held Cleveland at arm's length for much of the night, building a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter that they held into the third. Despite the Cavaliers' comeback, the Bulls held on for a 97-95 win, earning Hoiberg is first NBA win in the process.
The TNT crew of Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller spoke glowingly of Hoiberg's offensive approach throughout the evening, creating what had to be a bittersweet viewing dynamic for Cyclone fans that tuned in, who assuredly experienced the gamut of the various stages of grief. We saw many of the same perimeter ball screens and the same spread approach that Hoiberg brought to Ames over the last five years. We saw the Bulls come out of timeouts with brilliantly drawn-up plays. We saw ball movement. We saw offensive basketball with a purpose. We saw Chicago pushing the ball up the floor. We saw Hoiball.
It didn't take long for the harsh reality to set in; Hoiberg will always be "The Mayor", but he's no longer our coach.
Watching this game, I couldn't help but think back to May when both Hoiberg's future and the Iowa State program's future were in flux. Our fan base cannibalized itself. Words like "betrayal" were thrown around by some while others threw their full support Hoiberg's way, fracturing the Cyclone faithful. It was an ugly scene and an unnerving few weeks for many.
Luckily, we got Steve Prohm out of the deal, who's at least said and done all the right things since coming to Ames. Having already notched six commitments in his short time on the job, Prohm has flexed his recruiting chops in ways that Hoiberg never fully did. Sure, he's yet to coach a game, but with a 104-29 career record, Prohm would appear to know a thing or two about winning.
So on a night that Hoiberg has dreamed of since his playing days were cut short due to a heart ailment, we offer our full congratulations and wish him the best of luck going forward. You'll always be "The Mayor", but we've moved on.
We're now proud members of the Prohman Legion.