Jim Boylen’s stubbornness over late Bulls timeouts might be the silliest cause ever
This is how he wants to be remembered? For angering players, fans, broadcasters and opposing coaches?
Would you want to be known as the guy in the office who goes off on tangents that extend already torturous meetings well beyond their budgeted time?
If so, thanks for answering, Jim Boylen.
Against all reason, the coach has decided to plant a flag over his inane habit of calling late timeouts in games the Bulls have no chance of winning. It has become his cause. It’s like begging for your gravestone to read, “Enjoyed Driving in the Left Lane Well Below the Posted Speed Limit.’’
Boylen did it again Saturday, calling a timeout when the Suns were up 10 points with 30 seconds left. TV cameras appeared to show Bulls guard Zach LaVine saying, “Why are we calling a timeout when we’re down [bleeping] 10?’’ LaVine is the best player on the team, which is why Boylen beat media members back to the locker room to try to get on the same page as his star. No one is on the same page as Boylen when it comes to this issue.
“That’s what he do, man,’’ LaVine said of the timeouts. “… I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not the coach.’’
Everything is OK, Boylen insists, but, really, it isn’t. You have to wonder about someone who is so beholden to his teachable moments that he’s willing to alienate everyone — players, fans, broadcasters and opposing coaches — in the process. Boylen argues that he owes it to his players to coach until the very end of a game, but the big picture matters here. The big picture is that nothing he says to Ryan Arcidiacono with 30 seconds left in a sure loss is going to change Arcidiacono’s world or anyone else’s. It’s going to further irritate people who didn’t think they could be irritated further by the Bulls.
There’s a question that refuses to leave the premises: This is how Boylen wants to be remembered? I’m sure every high school coach who ever knelt at the altar of Bob Knight loves Boylen’s determination and devotion to doing things the right way. But this is the NBA, and that stuff doesn’t fly. It doesn’t even fly coach.
Boylen has tried to shift the focus of the latest brushfire.
‘‘What we can’t do is not expect people to be frustrated with a losing streak or a home loss,’’ he said. “That’s a healthy thing that there’s frustration. It’s a healthy thing that you’ve got competitive people that are upset that we’re hurt and we’re fighting to win games.’’
This isn’t about the frustration of losing. It’s about being a professional coach coaching professional players. It’s about what the NBA isn’t. It isn’t the University of Utah, where Boylen once coached. It’s a man’s league. Anything that needs to be said in the last minute of a hopeless game can be said the next day in practice.
We have a coach here in need of some serious coaching. Boylen can’t seem to decide whether he wants to be a taskmaster or a doting uncle. One minute, he’s quoting Robert’s Rules of Order, the next he’s talking about his players with such love and compassion you’d think they were a lost Boy Scout troop. Somebody in the organization needs to get to him before he starts appointing team moms to hand out healthy snacks.
Maybe Bulls vice president John Paxson can stop Boylen from being Boylen.
Or maybe it’s too late.
It’s probably too late.
It occurs to me that someone who calls late timeouts and once had NBA players run extra wind sprints and do military-style pushups is beyond being reached.
He’s the boss who makes notations in permanent files when employees return from lunch a few minutes past the allotted time.
He’s the guy who heats up leftover fish in the office microwave every stinking day and is oblivious to the olfactory effect on his coworkers.
He’s that guy.
On Sunday, Wizards coach Scott Brooks called his team “soft’’ after a loss to the Bulls. Dropping a game to a group that had lost eight straight will do that to coach.
It could have been worse, Scott. Boylen could have called a timeout with 15 seconds left in the game and his team up nine points. For the life of me, I can’t tell you why he didn’t.