I wrote the following in Monday’s Bullets: “The Boylen hate is over on BN Bulls. Good luck in the future, Jim. I’m sure he’ll land another assistant gig somewhere in the NBA … as long as it’s nowhere near Chicago.”
A couple hours later, it appears I have to walk back this statement.
The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry shared his latest on the Bulls coaching change. And in doing so, provided an in-depth look at the ineptitude that took place during Jim Boylen’s tenure in Chicago.
The entire read maps out perfectly what made Boylen a disastrous head coach:
"Others say they saw Boylen for who he is, a bullshitter, a bully, a sycophant. His greatest success as Bulls coach was simply getting the job."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) August 17, 2020
Arturas Karnisovas thanked Boylen for his work in Friday’s team-released statement that announced Boylen’s departure. In his remarks, Karnisovas even called Boylen a “great human being.”
If you weren’t already questioning the sincerity of that acknowledgment, Mayberry’s article will surely make you do so.
Boylen likely didn’t receive many signs of gratitude on his way out of the Advocate Center on Friday. In fact, Mayberry reports that even people within the organization viewed the past two seasons as a train-wreck:
Despite declaring in his first week on the job back in December 2018 that “Nobody is going to make more mistakes than I do,” Boylen rarely took responsibility for them. His two-year tenure was described by multiple people within the organization as toxic. One person labeled it a “nightmare.” Another, “a circus.”
I’m not going to lie, this is actually reassuring to hear. The Bulls have a more sane group of employees than some of us expected. But I guess none of them had a strong enough voice to put an end to the show.
Moreover, Karnisovas did what any good leader does – he took the high road. Karnisovas offered minimal commentary on what went into the decision during his media availability Friday and in his comments Monday on 670 The Score. He called firing Boylen a basketball decision, and the conversation basically stops there. Again, I can’t blame him. Karnisovas doesn’t want to kick a guy while he’s down. And he wants to organization to look ahead, not backward.
But still … there’s little doubt in my mind that the perception of Boylen within the organization played a role in his departure.
What stands between Boylen and another job in the NBA – even as an assistant – isn’t his win-loss record, but these apparent claims against his character. Mayberry paints quite the ugly picture, saying some saw “Boylen for who he is, a bullshitter, a bully, a sycophant.” OUCH. Boylen says he coached with “care,” but the majority of that care seemed to be for himself. What he actually coached with was recklessness and ignorance.
All of this has me thinking about the following Boylen quote from when he spoke with media in mid-July:
“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.”
In an effort to sound humble, Boylen did the opposite.
He makes it sound as if he’s entitled to a “thank you,” which is one of the many reasons his stint as an NBA head coach crashed and burned. Like every player out there, a head coach must earn his keep. Yes, even you, Jim.