The Spurs are the ‘standard’ in Jim Boylen’s mind and it’s his goal to get there
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MEXICO CITY – It was somewhat said in jest to Jim Boylen, but the message was real for the new Bulls head coach.
“I told him to slow down to be honest with you,’’ Bulls VP of basketball John Paxson said on Wednesday of a recent conversation he had with Boylen. “I’ve told him, ‘You can’t change the world in a week.’ He’s got so many ideas and things he wants to do, so I’ve kidded with him that he needs to slow it down a little bit.
“I tell him jokingly because he’s got so many things in his head. He’s trying to get to all of them, and he just needs to settle down, get some sleep.’’
That’s like 10th on the priority list for Boylen on Day 10 of his regime.
No. 1 was getting his players ready for the Magic and Thursday night’s NBA Mexico City Games 2018. Boylen, however, wasn’t ignoring Paxson’s request of him at all.
“I feel like I gotta be me,’’ Boylen said. “Some of that is me. Some of it is just we got things we got to get it done. Some of it is we’re putting building blocks in of who I know I want us to be. I take John’s advice very seriously. And I think he’s concerned that you gotta take the necessary steps in the correct order. I’m trying to do that. But I’m excited too. I’m focused on doing the job. To back off is probably not my personality. To go at a smooth pace, a focused pace is probably good for me.’’
Let’s just say the idea of “smooth pace’’ and Boylen really haven’t gone hand-in-hand, especially this first week. Making matters even more difficult for the long-time assistant NBA coach, he’s trying to acclimate two new players into the mix, with Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis back from their knee injuries.
All the while, the main message is building toughness through hard work. If that means long practices, running suicides and some honest criticism, well, get used to it.
It’s Boylen’s way or the highway, and he’s got backing from the front office and ownership to prove it.
“First of all, I’ve been supported to the hilt by ownership and management,’’ Boylen said. “Maybe people make light of this, but I’ve never been clearer in what I believe in, what we need to do, how we’re going to play. What I have to do is install this thing in the correct way to get to where we want to go. The outside noise is always going to be there. That’s part of this job. That’s part of this business. I just take it as a challenge. If you turn everything into a competitive experience, that works pretty well for me.’’
When it was pointed out to him that he often brings up his days working for Gregg Popovich, and that Popovich is known for a light practice schedule and game schedule for his players, Boylen quickly had a counterpoint.
“Pop did do that and he’s terrific at it,’’ Boylen said. “He had a veteran established team that knew what he wanted, knew the system. In San Antonio they have standards, standards of behavior, standards of play. We are establishing those and we can’t do those without practicing and do that without being pushed.
“We’re just in a different place than them, nothing wrong with that, nothing good, bad, just a different place. I feel good about it. We are going to work hard, players love to work, guys want to be pushed. This is more about how we are going to do it here and what is expected.’’