Did you hear that?
That’s the sound of new Chicago Bulls president of basketball operations, Arturas Karnisovas with the mic drop.
Did you feel that?
That was the earth tilting on its axis as all of BullsNation stood and rejoiced as not only has John Paxson and Gar Forman been removed from their posts atop the Bulls front office, but Jim Boylen has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the team.
It happened. In 2020 of all years.
We’ve been waiting for this to happen for so long, it started to feel like a dream. Of course, Boylen’s tenure has been a nightmare. It’s not just that as head coach he provided many losses, 84, and very few wins, 39, but in the embarrassing fashion in which he performed these results. On day three of the ridiculous Boylen era, DAY 3, his team almost quit on him. The near mutiny happened after Boylen’s third game as an NBA head coach, a game that featured the worst home loss in franchise history, when the Bulls lost to the Boston Celtics, 133-77.
Hey, I can run up the score like that on NBA 2K, once I update the sliders of course, but it shouldn’t happen in real life. Pretending to be part sheriff, part coach, the new top dog blamed the players, benched his starters and started a tradition that featured plenty of finger-pointing and throwing his players under proverbial busses and rarely taking responsibility. The latter he really made an art form.
Listen, I love a good quote. However, I prefer an NBA coach to be worthy of the title first. As in, produce first, talk second. If there’s anything a coach is needed most for, it’s to prepare their players for gameday, getting them ready to play when the time comes. But hey, it really was never Boylen’s fault, at least not that he could ever admit.
This is one of my favorites – “I think [players] need to take more responsibility for their preparedness. I think they need to take more ownership of their readiness to play. The head coaches in this league have never been expected to coach effort. Effort has to come from each guy.”
Jim Boylen’s tenure was terrible – plain and simple. When you have your star player openly saying he doesn’t trust you, there’s a problem. When that same player is openly questioning your decisions, like calling random timeouts late, and I mean LATE in games, you aren’t going to survive.
The truth is, Jim Boylen was the shiniest emblem of the failed GarPax era, an era highlighted largely by devastating injuries to Derrick Rose, bad trades and awful coaching hires. Yes, they hired Tom Thibodeau, but they also hired Fred Hoiberg and Vinny Del Negro and… Jim Boylen.
It’s not Boylen’s fault that the old regime didn’t do any sort of coaching search when Boylen replaced Fred Hoiberg. It is his fault for the results. Injuries were certainly a factor in the 22-43 record this season, as was the previous 17-41 record under his watch in 2018-19. He just wasn’t good enough.
In another era, Boylen’s approach may have worked. Shoot, even in the early 2000’s with his lunch-pail mindset reminiscent of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, he might have had success. He’s an old school guy in a new school era.
It just couldn’t work.
Now, the Chicago Bulls need to get to work on becoming a championship franchise again. It’s time for the organization to realize they operate out of a major market. It’s time to show why they are a $3.2 billion operation. The Chicago Bulls need to stop pinching pennies while they sit on a gold mine. They are in a first-rate city and should be a destination city for free agents. They should be on short-lists for superstars demanded a change of address.
Firing Jim Boylen was the inevitable first step for the Chicago Bulls under Karnisovas. Now the real work begins.