Coach Jim Boylen isn’t disregarding the Sunday-morning player circus that took place under his watch, but he said it easily could’ve been avoided.
Say hello to the new “leadership committee.’’
“We had a situation over the weekend that could’ve been handled by a leadership group walking into my office and saying, ‘You know what, Coach? This is how we feel today. What do you think?’ ’’ Boylen said Tuesday before the team boarded a flight to Mexico City. “We got a good group of guys and a good leadership group that has a sprinkling of the layers of our team.
‘‘I’m juiced, man. I’m jacked up about it.’’
But will it work?
Leadership committees are commonplace in the NFL. A strong collection of players acts as the liaison between locker room and coach. But an NFL roster is a small city compared to the 15-man NBA roster.
Boylen, however, said he has done a lot of research on leadership and pitched the idea to his players. For now, they’ve bought in.
Zach LaVine is obviously the face of this committee. The highest-paid player on the roster, LaVine sounded as though the committee wasn’t close to being a finished product. Résumés were still being accepted.
“We’re putting it together within the team, and we’re just trying to figure out the right dudes to lead the team, who will be with us moving forward,’’ LaVine said. “I think that’s the main thing. But I think it’s a great thing, especially with a young team. It’s not a dictatorship. We don’t have a straight-up old-school vet on the team, like a Kevin Garnett, where you know he’s the exact leader.
“With a young team, I feel like we can all have a voice, especially the ones that are going to be on the team [moving forward] and dudes [whose] voices are respected.’’
It sounds a bit rah-rah, almost high school-ish, but so was Sunday.
Players had their feelings hurt because Boylen did a mass sub-out of the starters twice during the franchise-record 56-point loss to the Celtics on Saturday, then wanted them to practice after back-to-back games.
Several Bulls tried to instigate a no-show-to-practice mutiny by Sunday morning. After veteran Robin Lopez brought a calm voice to the situation, a players-only meeting, then a team meeting ensued.
So what is the upshot after all the turmoil?
“I know one thing: When people are involved, they’re more committed,’’ Boylen said. “To me, that’s what this level is all about. Ownership of the team. Strong leadership. Care factor. Commitment. Those are not just words. Those are real things and actionable words.
“It doesn’t mean that I’m not the head coach and they’re the players. But they’re going to be respected as men at this level.’’
Boylen emphasized that his door was still open to his players. This committee is about bigger issues between the locker room and the coach’s office.
“A guy isn’t going to go to the leadership committee when he doesn’t understand his role,’’ Boylen said. “These are about team things, about the soul and spirit of the team. What I expect the leadership group to do is respect and honor the soul of the team. If they have any issues, they present them in the right way. What I’m hoping is the leadership group takes ownership of Bulls across their chest. We haven’t taken enough ownership of that. And that bothers me, man, because that’s what we can control.’’