Zach LaVine and Jim Boylen

USA Today

The Bulls Are The Best

Chicago's my new favorite team.

December 11, 2018 - 10:57 am
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There are some very exciting things taking place in the NBA right now. The Thunder have climbed to the top of the West. The Warriors got Draymond back. The Raptors and Bucks are showing up huge with new faces. But the real must-see action is taking place in Chicago. Yeah, I said it. Chicago.

And I know what you’re thinking – hey Rome, the Bulls are 6-22. They’ve already fired Fred Hoiberg. Why are you so interested in watching them, they’re awful? And my answer would be, you’re wrong. They aren’t awful. They are epically awful and they’re on the verge of a full-scale mutiny.

Let’s go back a little bit. The Bulls fired Fred Hoiberg after a 5-19 start and turned the team over to Jim Boylen. 

Makes sense. It was a rough start to the season and maybe it felt like time to shakes things up a little. And to that I say: Mission Accomplished.

Boylen led the team in a tough practice on Monday. Described by The Athletic as “a rigorous two-plus hour practice.” Make sense. Send a message that the new guy is in charge. 

They had a road game Tuesday night in Indiana, but before the game, their shoot around went longer than 90 minutes. They lost to the Pacers and then Boylen reportedly required the players to watch clips of their missed rebounds and turnovers. Then challenged the players’ toughness and conditioning. Good stuff. Love it.

He followed that up with another two-plus hour practice on Wednesday and another one on Thursday. And there was a lot of running. And according to Yahoo Sports, they also included “military style pushups.” 

They beat OKC on Friday night. It was a great moment. As The Athletic reported, it was “Boylen’s first career victory and the first in eight games for Chicago. Boylen celebrated at home with his family, eating cereal on the couch and watching re-runs of Family Feud.” 

Hell. Yes. You show me a head coach who celebrates victories by eating cereal on the couch and watching Family Feud re-runs and I’ll show you a winner. Based on that anecdote alone, Jim Boylen is practically Red Auerbach. 

Except he’s not. Because the following night, the Bulls lost to the Celtics 133-77. And if you need to get out your calculator to figure out that margin of defeat, don’t sweat it, I got you - it was 56. Yep, 56. As in Lawrence Taylor’s old number. 

Jim Boylen subbed out all five of his starters in the first quarter of that game. And then did it again in the second half. And if you thought that felt like a middle school tactic, well, wait until you see what he had to say after the game.

One note on that, Jim. The reason why nobody says a word to Gregg Popovich is because he’s Gregg Popovich. He’s arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. You worked for Gregg Popovich, you aren’t Gregg Popovich, but more on that in a moment. 

Because it gets better. Because there was another practice scheduled for Sunday, but the players started texting Saturday night and were on the verge of boycotting it. But according to Yahoo, it was worse than that. One veteran on the group text threatened to personally fine any player who showed up on Sunday. Amazing. Normally, the vets are punishing the youngsters for not showing up, in this case, a vet was reportedly threatening to punish a player FOR showing up. 

Eventually, they settled on showing up at the facility Sunday for a players-only meeting followed by meetings with the coaches. Oh, and somewhere along the line, Bulls players reportedly contacted the NBA players association about Boylen’s tactics. 

According to Yahoo, in that meeting with the players on Sunday, “Boylen repeatedly referenced his days on the San Antonio Spurs staff and instances in which coach Gregg Popovich pulled all five players off the floor to send a message, sources said. A player responded, sources said, telling Boylen in essence that they aren’t the Spurs and, more importantly, he isn’t Popovich.”

Damn! 

One thing for a knucklehead like me to point out that Jim Boylen isn’t Gregg Popovich, quite another for one of his own players to say that. A Chicago Bull hasn’t dunked on anyone that hard since Scott Pippen threw down on Patrick Ewing and then stepped over him. 

So to recap: Boylen took over on Monday and by Saturday, the players were nearly in a full-blown revolt, had contacted the players association, and needed to have a players’ only meeting and then meetings with the coaches on Sunday to avoid an all-out mutiny. Also, at one point, Jim Boylen had cereal and watched Family Feud re-runs. 

And then they chased all of this with a 19-point loss last night to Sacramento where they were booed off the court. Again. 

But it gets worse, because according to the Chicago Sun-Times basketball twitter account, as Sacramento was walking off the floor, one Kings player yelled: "Uh-oh, another 2 1/2-hour practice for them tomorrow" 

Holy crap. You’ve now reached the stage where the opposing team is openly mocking you. If beating the Thunder gets you cereal and Family Feud re-runs, what does getting booed off the court against the Kings get you? Hot Pockets and Match Game re-runs?

Either way, the Bulls are my new favorite team and I can’t wait to watch what happens next.

Chicago, let me give you some good news first: Your football team is bad ass. Now let me give you the bad news. Your basketball squad is just plain ass