If you are a superstitious sports fan searching for prophecies etched in the stars, surely “The Mayor” Fred Hoiberg’s twin sons are a good omen?
Sam and Charlie, the Hoiberg family’s youngest, were born in Chicago. Rome might not have been built in a day, but it was built by twins. Until recently, the family was living in Ames, Iowa, where Fred and his wife (and high school sweetheart) Carol, grew up. That all changed earlier this year when the Chicago Bulls front office tapped Hoiberg to take over as head coach after firing Tom Thibodeau.
The Hoiberg family landed in Hinsdale, which is starting to get a reputation as the Garden of Eden for Chicago’s head coaches. The King of that fiefdom—or “sportsdom”— incontestably being Coach Quenneville, whose home in Hinsdale is the unwitting recipient of a toilet paper fête every year the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.
Hoiberg, who tweeted the trophy emoji after the Hawks won the Cup, will try to borrow some mojo from his mustachioed neighbor.
Already, he has been described as the anti-Tom Thibodeau. A charismatic family man willing to work with management to Thibodeau’s workaholic bachelor that sparred frequently with management. The Hoiberg juju has been apparent from day one. He joked with Bulls general manager Gar Forman at his introductory news conference. He thanked his family. (Who have been described as “Rockwellesque.”) He promised an up-tempo pace and plenty of pick-and-rolls.
If the season-opener is any indication—not only beating the LeBron James-led, defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Cavaliers, but holding them to 40 percent shooting while bringing their offense into the 21st century—things are on the uptick at home in the Windy City.
And at home in Hinsdale? Hoiberg had to trade a basketball court in the backyard and a residence that sits on 2.27 rural acres in Ames for more suburban living. He also left behind a parking spot reserved for “The Mayor.” That spot isn’t reserved for the actual mayor of Ames; no, the beneficiary of that parking spot is the former head coach of Iowa State, Fred Hoiberg. Legend has it that he obtained that nickname his sophomore season playing with the Cyclones. Hoiberg had grown up five blocks from the Hilton Coliseum. His father was a sociology professor at Iowa State. In high school, where he met Carol, Hoiberg led Ames High to a state championship in 1991.
But what really sealed the deal—bestowing him with the honorific of “The Mayor” in Ames for all time—was Hoiberg’s spurning of national program offers, instead choosing Iowa State and eventually leading them to three trips to the NCAA tournament. When people went to the polls during a 1993 local election, Fred Hoiberg received enough write-in votes to be a long-shot contender for office. The name stuck.
This season, Bulls fans will see Hoiberg stalking the sidelines in a suit without a tie. Some may wonder if the Iowa State alum is fashion forward. Not quite. It turns out the reason is more practical than that. Hoiberg has too much heart. “I stopped wearing it last year,” Hoiberg told Grantland about his sartorial decision. “I got a little light-headed with it on.”
In 2005, Hoiberg applied for extra life insurance after the birth of the twins. The routine medical exam revealed he had an aortic aneurysm—a bulge in the aorta that could burst upon impact, triggering fatal internal bleeding. Before entering open-heart surgery that summer, Hoiberg had already embarked on a decade long career in the NBA, playing for the Pacers under Larry Brown and Larry Bird, and later Kevin McHale with the Timberwolves.
When doctors opened his chest and inserted a pacemaker, they effectively sealed his fate never to play another game in the NBA. But it was his choice. And Hoiberg put his family first. That’s why, when the former coach of the Cyclones says, “If there was danger in me doing this, I wouldn’t have taken this job,” you believe him. Much like in his playing days, Hoiberg led the Cyclones to four-consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, from 2012-15, with an overall record of 115-56. Tie or no tie, “The Mayor” means business.