At least we can look back and laugh about it now, right? No? Ah, whatever.
If you thought the Chicago Bulls were in a weird spot now, let’s turn back the clock to the 2018-19 NBA season. A man by the name of Jim Boylen had taken over the team just three games prior. Trying to assert his dominance as a gritty and aggressive leading man, he instructed his players that there would be long and grueling practice on Sunday despite the team just playing a back-to-back set.
Combine that with the fact that he had pretty much nothing kind to say about his players since taking over, and it should have come as no surprise that his roster wasn’t on board. Reports eventually surfaced that the Bulls players considered boycotting the workout in numerous ways. In other words, proceeding with some kind of mutiny.
Of course, nothing really ended up happening. While the players didn’t practice, it wasn’t for a lack of showing up to work. Everyone pulled up to the Advocate Center before a couple of team meetings were held to talk about the issues. Still, it was an embarrassing story to break, and it’s one that Lauri Markkanen can’t break.
The Bulls’ former power forward joined J.J. Redick on The Old Man & The Three podcast to talk about his breakout season with the Jazz. During their discussion, Redick couldn’t help but ask about the infamous event, and Markkanen giggled his way through the ridiculous story.
“We had an adjustment period with the practices being kind of harder, being taped all the time. We knew that it was going to be a hard practice after a back-to-back,” Markkanen said. “Then, there started talks that we weren’t going. And it ended up being a situation where we were standing in the parking lot when the practice was about to start and we’re like, “what are we doing? Now, we have to stick together.”
We went into the facility, put our practice gear on, and had a team meeting. Everything kind of started to sort out after that. This was my second year in the league … it’s a weird time to look back [on].”
Redick went on to tell Markkanen that he wouldn’t have thought the NBPA would have allowed an organization to hold practice after a back-to-back, which is exactly what Markkanen pointed to as the root of the problem.
“That’s how it started,” Markkanen explained. “Like, we’re not allowed to practice and then reps started to call the unit like, “no, you guys are allowed to practice. You normally don’t practice, but you’re allowed to practice.” That’s what we were talking about in the parking lot, “[so] it’s not a rule, we can still practice, and now we’re just in it together.”
I got to say, as discouraging as this start to the season has been for the latest Chicago Bulls team, I’m at least happy that these days are behind us. Everything about the team’s previous situation was so dysfunctional, and it’s at least nice knowing Billy Donovan isn’t going to drive his players out of the gym (at least … I hope).
You can catch Markkanen’s complete interview below: