I was going to dismiss this, maybe even (gasp) relegate it to the fanposts, but earlier this week Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic provided some locker room context to 670TheScore and it did pique interest:
“To be honest with you, I’m seeing a lot of laughing and joking after losses, and it’s something that really confuses me. They can go out there and lose to Cleveland -- and I was there for that game and in the locker room -- and it just seems like it doesn’t affect these guys the way it should when they are losing to teams they are clearly better than.”
“And I’ll give you another example. The Indiana game, when they’re missing three of their starters, three of their four best players in Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. They go out there and lose that game, and you just don’t get the sense that it really affects them. When you drop games the way that they’re dropping them, when you lose to the teams that they’re losing to, that’s when it seems like it should hurt these guys way more than it appears to be hurting them, and that’s where there seems to be a disconnect between the results and their reaction after the games.”
Mayberry went on to question directly ‘stars’ Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine, while reemphasizing other reports that Wendell Carter and Thaddeus Young are on the other end of this.
And this was before they won big and fun-ly on Tuesday, where you had 10th men pulling Nick Young stuff to great delight by all.
I typically don’t blame ‘attitude’ for when a basketball team doesn’t play well, and won’t here. However, this is uniquely bad for the Bulls since they do care about caring so much!
We had a post on this very same phenomenon last year in the final convulsions of the Fred Hoiberg tenure, a locker room “devoid of emotions” after losses.
Then after Hoiberg was canned, here was Bulls stern-lecturer-in-chief John Paxson acknowledging it as a problem:
“When you look in the locker room after a game and you don’t see guys maybe hurting as much as they did before about losing, those are all things that when you sit in my position, in (Gar Forman’s) position, you have to pay attention to. And that’s what we were looking at.”
We all know what happened after that, not only was Jim Boylen promoted to bring back the spirit and “care factor”, but Boylen then had a disastrous season but managed to deftly parrot Paxson’s concerns to con his boss into a contract extension.
But now according to Mayberry, it doesn’t look like Boylen has actually helped this. I don’t think it really matters, and am even skeptical of the mere practice of body-language policing. But it likely does matter to John Paxson, who has a bizarre predilection towards things like the ‘kids’ playing through gritted teeth. A couple more bad losses and there will soon be a KC Johnson report of ‘John Paxson went into the locker room and tossed stuff and really laid into the fellas, he’s a competitor!”. Hey I made that joke last year too!