Boylen reflects on his eventful opening week on job

  • The last time the Chicago Bulls faced the Celtics on Dec. 8, head coach Jim Boylen was just coaching just his third game. They faced the most lopsided loss in franchise history that night.

    The last time the Chicago Bulls faced the Celtics on Dec. 8, head coach Jim Boylen was just coaching just his third game. They faced the most lopsided loss in franchise history that night. Associated Press

Updated 2/23/2019 8:18 PM

The arrival of the Boston Celtics on Saturday made it an opportune time to look back at the Jim Boylen coaching era.

The last time the Celtics visited the United Center on Dec. 8, it was Boylen's third game on the job and the Bulls lost 133-77, the most lopsided defeat in franchise history. The following day, some players balked at the idea of having a Sunday practice, which was then canceled in favor of a team meeting.


"I was brought in to effect change (and) that was a moment that I thought we changed the most," Boylen said before Saturday's game. "Although it wasn't pleasant, it was necessary, and I feel in my heart we're seeing the benefits of that situation now."

The Bulls have certainly evolved since then, returning to the up-tempo offensive style favored by previous coach Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls had won three of five games since the addition of Otto Porter Jr. solidified the starting lineup.

In some ways, though, the circumstances were the same. On Dec. 8, the Bulls played the second leg of back-to-back games after an upset win over Oklahoma City. This game was another back-to-back, coming off a win at Orlando on Friday.

"I felt that I knew what the team needed at that moment. I don't feel any pushback at all from these guys. They've done everything I've asked them to do. Even that week when we had hard practices and we ran more than they were used to and we practiced longer, I didn't get any pushback.

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"The idea is to grow and learn and move forward. A little adversity, a little tough time, a little uncomfortableness isn't the end of the world. My job is to prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child. These guys are men. I'm trying to prepare them for the road."

Feeling the hard edge:

There's been an impression of Jim Boylen as an old-school style of coach with a hard edge. Maybe he's a little more direct and confrontational, and isn't afraid to ask players to do more conditioning.

Boylen was asked Saturday if he thinks that's a proper description.

"Gosh, I don't know, man," Boylen said. "If a hard-(edge) style is being direct and honest and pushing guys to maybe a place they can't take themselves without being combative is a hard-(edge) style, then I guess I'm a hard (personality). I don't know where that comes from.

"I just want us to play the right way, I want us to represent Bulls across our chest and have that mean more than the name on the back. I think that's missing at times at this level and I don't believe that helps the essence of the team."


Boylen also clarified that his often-used phrase of "playing for the Bulls across your chest," is just about playing for your teammates and not your own stats.

Celtics go to college:

Green and purple don't mix very well. So it was unusual that on their day off in Chicago on Friday, the Celtics went up to Evanston and practiced at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena. Longtime Butler coach Brad Stevens was behind the decision.

"I've always thought it was fun to go different places," Stevens said. "Sometimes it's just an opportunity to see something new, be in a new gym. There's obviously, with (NU coach) Chris (Collins') connection to a couple of our Duke players, I thought that would be fun. Then I know a lot of guys on that staff and have a couple friends on the football staff as well. We had extra time yesterday, so it was fun.

"I coached there twice ... and it was still the old Welsh-Ryan. Their upgrades are perfect. I love the small setting. I think that's the right way to go, because that thing filled in, not only nice with all the new amenities, but I'm sure it's loud."


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