On Wednesday, Jim Boylen briefly spoke with reporters about the organization’s front office overhaul, boasting about the relationship he’s built with the team’s new front office leaders.
Here’s the quote:
“The relationship has gone really well,” Boylen told WGN’s Rick Tarsitano. “We communicate every day. I think they understand where we were, what we’re trying to get to. They’ve been very supportive and collaborative. It’s a process to build this team into what it can be. I just like the fact that we have a relationship already. It’s never perfect. Nothing’s perfect. You just work at it. Tell the truth. You get your guys to play hard. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
I know that sounds bad, but I think we need to remember Boylen’s words probably shouldn’t hold much weight (at least in terms of telling us whether or not his job is safe). He’s obviously got a bit of an agenda in that arena.
More to the point, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have the final say, and while it may be somewhat of an indication to hear Boylen express comfort, I have to wonder what else we’d expect him to say. I mean, would Boylen ever openly admit that his job is on the line? Probably not. He has to keep things as professional as possible, while simultaneously knocking on so much wood that it’ll save his butt (Michael: It probably doesn’t hurt to help steer the narrative in your direction either).
When discussing the team’s shortcomings in the 2019-20 season, Boylen didn’t necessarily admit any wrongdoing. Instead, he resorted to familiar ways, pointing out the team’s youthful roster and injury trouble:
“We have a young team. We were 23 and a half years-old. We had an injury-laden season. We need to play. We need to compete. We played very hard. We were a hard-playing team, but we want to keep that edge going into next year. It’s hard to do that without the competition part of it. We’re hoping we can have some of that.”
Ugh, everything about that comment screams GarPax. While both those things might be true, they shouldn’t necessarily be an excuse for playing the way this team did (after all, he labeled them as playoff-worthy before the season).
Also, is he already making excuses for a lackluster 2020-21? Perhaps my general frustration has me wearing negatively-tinted glasses, but I find it a bit absurd that he’s saying it’ll be challenging for this team to play hard next season with the lack of any current competitive play.
Now, I’ll confess, Boylen at least pretends to take responsibility decently well. He’ll admit when things aren’t going well and then pretend he’s working toward a resolution. However, he continuously fails to say anything of substance or make any material changes. Sure, it’s nice for a coach to say his team needs to play hard and win, but how the heck does that coach plan to make sure those things happen? Acknowledging the team needs to improve and actually improving the team are two entirely separate things. I’m praying to the basketball gods that Karnisovas and Eversley recognize that this offseason.
Additionally, we can laugh about Boylen all we want, but he continues to be an effective smooth talker behind the scenes. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson has reported for weeks that Karnisovas has “empowered” Boylen, allowing him to go about the offseason normally. The head coach has run meetings and has even offered insight on “developmental strategies and potential hires.” Fortunately, Johnson also writes that plenty of speculation still exists about whether he’ll stay, but if he’s still this involved, clearly he’s been able to keep Karnisovas and Eversley from hating his guts right off the bat.
Now, listen – he could be a very nice guy. I mean, recently he’s gone out of his way to stand up for the social justice movement, participating in a Juneteenth March in Chicago and speaking at the Unity in the Community event yesterday in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I never have and never will attack his character. That’s not what this is about. But, with that said, character shouldn’t be the deciding factor. The fact of the matter is Boylen carries a .317 winning percentage on his shoulders, and several of the team’s key players have spoken out against his style/abilities/affect. Keeping him around is practically impossible to justify at this point.
Anyway, for the sake of concluding this post, here’s one more comment from Boylen:
“I do look forward to going to work. I like to teach. I like to coach. I’m an educator not really a legislator. I’m here to support this. Helping guys get better, having guys thank you for helping them. Sometimes some time goes by before you get that thank you, but it happens. I’ve been at every level, so every job I’ve ever gotten has been a big moment for me.”
How much time before he gets a thank you from Bulls fans?