MEXICO CITY – The Chicago Bulls have had zero players report their head coach the past two days. That might be more because of the team being in Mexico ahead of tonight’s tilt against the 12-15 Orlando Magic. The game, the Bulls fifth under Jim Boylen, pits two teams with more drama and uncertainty than promise at this point, against each other. In the Bulls case it has become like a dramedy with basketball as a backdrop.
There have been numerous stories written on the turmoil the Bulls have put themselves through, including this one. It has become untenable and there are still 54 games left, including tonight. Will Boylen last the entire season with the team in such disarray? According to him, he was prepared for the “mutiny” from the players. If this has been what preparedness looks like, we need to redefine the word. His drill sergeant coaching style is rarely a popular one among professional athletes; not that it should be a popularity contest. The players still need to be willing to listen to the coach. That is not the case here.
Boylen says he views the San Antonio Spurs as the gold standard for how a team should operate. Not a bad organization to emulate. The issue is that this Bulls organization – run by John Paxson and Gar Forman – is not the Spurs. Boylen is not Pop. San Antonio built their well-respected image through years of being relevant. They won championships, drafted well and you always felt that they had a chance. Meanwhile the thought of the Bulls organizationally incites thoughts of old Vince McMahon entrance music.
They might be able to argue they gave drafted well, a tenuous argument, but that will not be enough for a fanbase growing more fed up by the day. The problem is, as obvious as it may seem to those on the outside, there is almost no chance the embattled pairing of GarPax does not return next year. We have seen time and again from ownership, they are loyal to management to a fault. White Sox fans can attest to that. Perhaps the one change glimmer of hope is that the Sox might be about to return to relevance. In other words, even this owner wants change after a while. When it will be is anyone’s guess.
If Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls seemed ill-fated, Boylen and the Bulls is D.O.A. It is a shame for franchise with the history of the Bulls. They are taking advantage of a passionate and rabid fanbase, and have been for 15 years. Sure there have been ups – the Derrick Rose and short-lived Jimmy Butler era – but there has been a lot of mediocrity. After the last game, Kings players were overheard in the tunnels of the United Center, mocking the Bulls. Let that sink in. Chicago fans are left to hope their favorite team can be like the Kings. Ouch.