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Critics be damned, Bulls coach Jim Boylen continues doing it his way

A prevailing narrative last season had the front office forcing Boylen to change his coaching style, but that never took place.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen
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Moving one chair over instantly changed Jim Boylen’s life last December.

It meant being under the microscope instead of working in the background.

It meant a wave of criticism crashing his way rather than being able to coach in the shadows like your standard NBA assistant.

It meant dealing with a narrative about his performance on the job as the Bulls’ coach that was created in the blogosphere and had scant merit.

Boylen adapted to the negativity, but that didn’t mean he was OK with it.

The one perception that still irks him is the idea that he was hell-bent on reverting to slow-it-down basketball, turning his nose up on the modern NBA.

It was reported by several beat writers, and even stated by Boylen, that the slow-paced style he employed in December was necessary at the time to get his young team to understand the basics and to purge bad habits. Or as he put it, “getting them to crawl before they could walk,’’ and then eventually run.

As promised, they were running by February, but then it was rumored that Boylen’s team only started playing at a faster pace because vice president of basketball operations John Paxson pressured him.

That never happened.

Both men made that clear.

Paxson reiterated that last week when discussing the Bulls’ latest draft haul: guard Coby White and big man Daniel Gafford.

“We’re not pushing anything onto our coach,’’ Paxson said.

Does Boylen like a lot of four-out, one-in action when the push isn’t there in his halfcourt sets? Absolutely. But he also likes multiple ballhandlers pushing the action, including wing Otto Porter Jr. and 7-footer Lauri Markkanen.

That’s why the organization was quickly dismissing the notion that the ultra-quick White would somehow be forced to play with a Boylen piano on his back.

“Jim wants to play faster,’’ Paxson said. “In watching basketball, offense and defense work together. If you’re an efficient offensive team, a lot of times you’re a better defensive team because the other team has to take the ball out of the basket to run against you. If you’re not an efficient offensive team, if you turn it over a lot, you’re not going to be as good of a defensive team.

“Jim has a philosophy; the multiple-ballhandler system is something that lends itself to playing faster. But you need a commitment to running. And I don’t think we’ve always had guys committed to running, and that will be something [we focus on] in training camp and hopefully this summer.

“It’s simple when you think about it. If you get the ball up quicker, you have more options, you can move the ball from side to side, teams have to guard a little longer, those types of things. And Coby obviously has proved he can play an up-tempo game.’’

White has no reservations about his new coach, raving about the meeting he had with Boylen in the predraft interviews.

“I told my agent and my family after the meeting with coach Boylen that it was great,’’ White said. ‘‘It was the best individual meeting I had with a coach.’’

Boylen will be getting the Summer League players together and begin practice within the week. It will have a boot-camp mentality to it with Boylen wanting his entire roster well-conditioned. Then in Las Vegas on July 5, all eyes will be on White to see exactly how much Boylen will let him run wild.

“The great players want to learn; they want to be coached,’’ Paxson said.

The Bulls are confident White will take that approach with Boylen.

Just don’t tell the critics. It would only ruin their narrative.