The Chicago Bulls first-year head coach, Jim Boylen, made one of the worst first impressions you could imagine last season. To be fair, inheriting a 5-19 team in the middle of a completely lost season (in the middle of a completely lost rebuild) didn’t do him any favors, but still. It wasn’t great, and I doubt I’ll hear many objections to that assessment.
However, during this past offseason, Boylen’s direction and general impact on the front office decisions may have led some Bulls fans to change their relationship status to: “It’s complicated.” And justifiably so.
The latest from The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry holds the culmination of every (shockingly) positive move we’ve seen the Boylen-led Bulls make this offseason, and I think you’ll absolutely want to read it today, before the first game of the year.
Appropriately headlined – in part – with “perception vs. reality,” Mayberry gives us a more complete look at the man tasked to carry the Bulls out of dark times. Again, this is your must-read of the day, so be sure to check it out.
His “Boylen-isms” (like assigning each player a time card to clock into work … which I actually love) accompanied with the endless preaching of character, haven’t failed to frustrate outsiders. But according to Mayberry, that’s exactly the sort of stuff that’s led us to one of the most optimistic Bulls opening day in years.
There has been a palpable shift inside the Advocate Center, a whole new attitude and atmosphere. Players raved about it throughout training camp and the preseason. The vibe, they say, is just different. And no one receives more credit from those inside the Bulls’ building than Boylen, the coach who’s bounced back from a turbulent opening week on the job to spearhead the makings of something that could turn special.
Split into multiple sections, Mayberry’s story is outlined with plenty of detail and useful behind-the-scenes revelations. For example, going back to Boylen’s days under Fred Hoiberg, Mayberry explains how the Bulls new head coach became aware of the negative environment and how it grew out of a general “content with being bad.” And we now know, Boylen tried his best to stop that right away.
Eventually, after a week of long grueling practices and back-to-backs, the coach called for a team “film” session. The players weren’t happy and some threatened the now-infamous mutiny. But the squad showed up, and from the sound of it, that meeting might have been exactly what wound up saving the Bulls.
“That moment, when they didn’t understand me, and maybe they weren’t ready for how I was going to coach them, was a difficult moment,” Boylen told Mayberry. “But it was a wonderful moment. Because we were able to get it all on the table.”
Things may have shifted from this exact moment on (I mean … why else would Zach LaVine offer to pay the man’s fine only a couple of months later?). Who would’ve seen that coming?
And, of course, the trust Boylen received from his players started to fall hand-in-hand with the trust awarded to him by the front office. Mayberry provides a closer look at Boylen’s heavy involvement in the team’s free-agent moves this summer. Apparently, he took the initiative to call Luke Kornet, Thaddeus Young, and Tomas Satoransky himself – he wanted them, so he went out and got them.
Despite all of this, Boylen’s reputation has remained damaged, and that’s something he’s completely aware of:
“I care about it [perception],” Boylen told Mayberry. “Obviously, you’d like to be perceived as a knowledgable, good person. It was a little strange that I was considered old school because I asked our guys to work hard and care about the city… People think I’m overbearing or I’m insecure or a control freak. No, I’m not. I want the players to coach the team. I’m going to show them how that looks, how that works, how that’s supposed to happen.”
Whether you want to admit it or not (I already have), Boylen may well be the reason that disgusting pit in your stomach has blossomed into a weird, positive butterfly feeling just hours before the Bulls first game of the season. Again, it’s almost amazing to end up here.
Now, listen: No one’s asking you to fall in love with the man just yet – he’s certainly got plenty more to prove on the court so to speak, and that takes time (and wins). But sometimes you have to just give someone a shot, and after reading the latest by Mayberry and learning a lot more about Boylen’s existing impact, it’s time to do just that.
So, go ahead. It’s okay … change that status one more time: “In a relationship.” I don’t think you’re going to regret it.
Perception vs. reality: How Jim Boylen turned around the Bulls and began building a positive culture https://t.co/FM84U2GylP
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) October 23, 2019