Many coaches have flocked to the Yoda of NBA basketball, the wise seer Phil Jackson. Among them is Jim Boylen of the Chicago Bulls, who haven't tasted ultimate victory since Jackson's last days at the helm.
Boylen knew Jackson would do his homework before offering to help, so he made it a point to do the same with The Zen Master.
“I think he researches people before they come. Because he knew some stuff about me — like, ‘I know you coach guys hard. … You're a defensive-minded guy,'” Boylen told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. “So I was prepared, too. I had notes, copies of rosters, personnel, coaches he'd hired. I read his books.”
Boylen had no clue how long Jackson would spend with him, as they only had plans for lunch at a local cafe.
“I think the place closed at 3, and we left at 5,” said Boylen. “Then we had dinner at this place that closed at 9, and we stayed until 10.”
The Bulls coach wasn't done picking the brain of his predecessor, stopping at a local bakery for a quiche he could bring over to Jackson's house for lunch.
“It was one of the coolest things I've ever done,” said Boylen, who has received frequent texts and emails from Jackson throughout his two years with the Bulls.
Boylen asked him to watch the Bulls and offer critiques and suggestions. Jackson obliged, sending him a detailed note breaking down the team's offense and even suggesting a few plays from the pinch-post.
“He confirmed some things that I believe in, which made me feel good, because he's the best coach ever,” said a proud Boylen. “But he also opened my mind up to some things, too.”
The Bulls haven't had much luck thus far, winning only 22 games in a 2019-20 season that came to a halt on March 11. While there is no hope for postseason play for this season, the Bulls might just gain some new insight for the 2020-21 season if Boylen keeps his job, though new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas might decide to move in a different direction.