If there’s one thing Jim Boylen has done well throughout his opening week as head coach it’s providing endless quotes that leave us all wondering what the hell he’s actually on about.
Maybe it sounded better in his head. It certainly reads like something a stereotypical hard ass who’s tasked with raising the level of spirit and passion of a flailing young team would say — surely Nick Nolte popped a vein in his forehead screaming something similar to Shaquille O’Neal in Blue Chips?
Promoted to head coach after the interim tag on his job status had been lifted, Boylen has been fully endorsed by management and ownership to carry on like a madman. The Reinsdorfs are paying him to push the players out of their comfort zone, and he sure as hell is succeeding.
On so many levels, I respect Boylen making it known that those in the power positions within this organisation have enabled all of it. It means the world to him for management and ownership to give full support in his coaching style. And why shouldn’t they empower their new guy?
On the off chance you hadn’t heard, Boylen spent years coaching alongside Gregg Popovich. Think of the Spurs-like culture that can be set here in Chicago! Sure, until the players improve their conditioning, it may take time. Military-style push-up regimens and running suicides will speed up the process, as will making 5-man substitutions that do nothing but treat grown men like children. Going back to the future with some rah rah bullshit better suited for the 90’s is entirely justified because that’s what arguably the greatest and most respected coach in the league history did and no one questioned him, so why can’t Jim?
Did I mention Boylen knows Popovich? Oh, I did. Well, did you also know that Boylen knew a player revolt was coming? Ahead of the movement, he expected something like this to happen. He was waiting on it. He was prepared for it. That’s what this disciple of Popovich does. He starts atypical shit and then has the good sense to feel something may be off. Genius.
All of this was part of a wider plan. You see, this sort of stuff has to happen to get to the next level. An ordeal like this is about building trust. It was a blessing for where things have to go. This is what families do. They fight, they bicker, and on occasions, they call the Players Union. It’s all fine. They had every right to do it. But don’t think that deters from the fact the team is going to work.
Trying moments like this give a new coach the chance to provide teachable moments, and boy does that get Boylen excited. He’s juiced, man. He’s jacked up about it. This is an entirely stable response to what has occurred over the last week, and surely not a sign of a coaching style that will be a deterrent to future free agents. That, of course, assumes said free agent is a guy that wants to work after a 56-point loss. You hear that, Kevin Durant? This applies to you too, Kawhi. If you don’t want to work after the biggest loss in franchise history, we don’t want you here.
Boylen, however, couldn’t be more excited to be here, and never thought in his whole life he’d be the coach of the Chicago Bulls.
Brought in to raise intensity and overuse cliches, representing the Bulls is about wearing the name of the team proudly across the chest, something they haven’t owned well. Things are different now, though. If you don’t honor the game with effort and competitiveness, you sit. No one wants to double-lose here. There won’t be any issue with splintering.
There’s a new sheriff in town, one who differs greatly from Fred Hoiberg, as does his philosophical views on how basketball should be played in Chicago. Just like Popovich did in San Antonio, things are going to slow down. The team is going to get deep into their sets and make people guard them through the clock. Sounds like a great plan, coach, even if it runs against modern offensive principles. Reducing the amount of times the team pushes the ball and slowing the game down into the halfcourt so defenses can load up on an inexperienced team with so few credible ball-handlers is certainly something one ought to do.
Before the Bulls can follow league-wide trends they will first need to be basic. That’s what Boylen has been tasked to do. The irony, of course, is basic communication between players and coach has been lost in a matter of days. As the national media reacts to the unfolding situation and the former jokes of the league now get their chance to point and laugh, things apparently couldn’t be clearer for Boylen.
Good for him, I guess. That makes one of us.