Rumor: Bulls once had ‘minor concern’ Zach LaVine, Jim Boylen would get into physical altercation
Earlier this season, the Chicago Bulls had a “minor concern” about a potential physical altercation between former head coach Jim Boylen and star shooting guard Zach LaVine, according to a report from Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
In most cases, coaches and players share a cordial relationship. In fact, some go beyond that cordial label to develop bonds that last indefinitely. Sometimes, though, building tension and outside factors can obstruct this kinship.
LaVine was angry after a loss to the Miami Heat in which he was yanked early in the game and felt singled out. His ire, according to The Athletic, was aimed at Boylen, and the Bulls had this “minor concern” that a physical altercation was forthcoming prior to the team’s ensuing flight to Charlotte.
A pregame meeting before the Bulls took on the Hornets the next day helped smooth out the tension. LaVine responded with a career-high 49 points, including 13 made 3-pointers and a miraculous game-winner with 0.8 seconds left. Still, LaVine’s agent asked for a sit-down with Boylen three nights later in San Francisco, the night before the Bulls played at Golden State.
The relationship between LaVine and Boylen had seemingly been improving after a rocky start. In fact, LaVine actually offered to pay a fine that Boylen received after he and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers were both ejected from a game during the 2018-19 season. LaVine thought his coach did not deserve to be thrown out, and he went to bat for him:
“I didn’t feel like he deserved it,” LaVine said days later, via The Athletic. “So I wanted to stick up for him. He sticks up for us a lot. I feel like he hasn’t got enough credit for that. We’re not winning and he’s still coaching us hard. We’re going somewhere. I appreciate that.”
It’s nice that LaVine was willing to pay Boylen’s fine, but it seems the coach used the act as a publicity stunt to improve his image.
What LaVine didn’t appreciate, according to a person familiar with the situation, was Boylen leaking the gesture to the press. What was intended as an olive branch quickly turned into a publicity stunt orchestrated by Boylen to make himself look good.
The Bulls decided to fire Boylen last week after two losing seasons. He joined the team for the 2015-2016 campaign as an associate head coach and took over when the Bulls fired head coach Fred Hoiberg in December 2018. Chicago posted a 22-43 overall record this season and did not qualify to play in the NBA bubble.