As routine as embarrassing losses have come for the Bulls this season, just as routine has been Jim Boylen being very much not embarrassed by any of it. After the Blazers home loss Boylen pretty much threw his hands up to the basketball gods for why ‘spirit’ didn’t make the ball go in the hoop.
After the following game was even worse, he didn’t even offer up that minimum of an excuse. Concluding with this garbage:
there’s no shame in this game tonight. We played hard and we competed and we battled and we’re gonna do the same thing, we’re gonna practice tomorrow, we’re gonna have some turkey and we’re gonna play Friday… This is not the defining moment of our season. We’re gonna keep playing.
Then when asked as a follow-up if there was a ‘disconnect’ between what’s been going on during the games versus in practices, Boylen maintained all is well:
I don’t see any disconnect. I see a team that’s battling and trying. And I’m really proud of them.
Then Boylen gave one last goofy smile and that was that.
The team-owned official postgame show correctly reacted with “this fucking guy...”
To offer my non-controversial opinion here: I agree!
As does Wendell Carter:
Wendell Carter Jr., once again, stands as a voice of reason: "It's some shame in this loss. In my opinion, it's some shame in every loss, especially to a very hurt and wounded Warriors team. I'm brutally honest, we should have won that game."— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) November 28, 2019
Zach LaVine was actually more on Boylen’s side, saying they can be upset but not ashamed, and needing to remain positive. But he also cited the Warriors possessing “championship coaching”, and you have to wonder if he said that knowing deep down he has nothing close to that backing his own team.
There is rationale from Boylen in being this openly delusional. Part of it is that he feels his bosses want this ‘culture’ of growth and positivity. Though it’s curious that one of Bulls management’s very few expectations is not being happy about losing, the answer there is they’re all full of shit when lamenting ‘spirit’. What’s a more important motivation for Bulls management is a deflection of accountability. And Jim Boylen has shown to be in lockstep with that culture.
Boylen doesn’t offer up any negative assessment, let alone pledging solutions, because he knows he has no ability to right things. So instead of actually saying what he can do to change, it’s better to try and deny that anything is wrong.
In a long interaction with The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry taking place before the Bulls lost to the worst team in the league, Boylen maintained that his team has actually been good (defense is top-15 and gets turnovers, running more, have a good shot profile) but they are instead losing all the time because of ‘missing shots I think we can make’ and a lack of ‘consistency’.
This is concerning in that Boylen doesn’t recognize what is wrong with the defense, or the offense, but it’s also worrisome to express such a glaring lowering of expectations. Boylen was citing positives like individual performances against the Hornets, and wins against the Hawks and Pistons.
But those lack of expectations also fits in with management. The team is reeling right now and to the outside an open embarrassment, at an extremely early part of what was supposed to be a season of progress. So it’s fitting that while both John Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf’s son have spared their own families to be with their work on this road trip, it’s a trip where there is little media following them.
Because, like Boylen himself, his oft-heralded “John, Gar, Michael, and Jerry, and Doug” don’t feel any urgency as they don’t care enough themselves to have higher expectations. Here was KC Johnson at the Bulls flagship expressing this franchise mindset:
The sense around the organization is that’s too early to panic but not too early to be upset. There’s still internal belief that if players start making open shots, a soft Eastern Conference playoff picture could be crashed.
Yup, belief in crashing the last seed in the shithole conference! That...is actually doable. And despite the spiraling nature of this season, other ‘competitors’ in this tier have been just as bad.
Thus the Bulls won’t make any changes because they don’t need to. Nothing is actually bad, inside their building they see progress, and they have such meager goals it’s by definition never impossible to ‘compete’ for those achievements. They will go on some bogus win streak in the later part of the season to delude themselves again. Like how Boylen strains for positives like ‘battling back’ in a game already lost, management will look to a .500 record in February or backing into a playoff berth.
To a lot of people that’s pretty shameful, but this is a franchise proven to have no shame. And they’re all behind a coach out here openly saying it.