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    COLUMN: As Chicago leader, Zach Lavine fails to take bull by the horns

    Jun 8, 2020
    spin zone

    CHICAGO - As a sweeping change blows across the franchise, Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen remains officially employed by the team, showing a lasting power few had anticipated.

    But as the NBA restarts this July without the league's horned crusaders, it seems like Arturas Karnisovas, the newly-minted head of basketball operations, is rifling through his desk looking for a pink stationary.

    According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, a juicy fruit plucked from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, leads the list of candidates in the team's rumored coaching search.

    It's a leak, obviously. But is it a kiss of death for the fiery Boylen?

    In a Zoom call with Chicago reporters two days ago, Zach LaVine was asked to address the issue. Instead of taking it head-on, the high-flyer careened swiftly on the safe side, parsing his words like a nervous politician.

    "It's not for me to judge somebody," LaVine told Hall-of-Fame writer Sam Smith, author of the worldwide best-selling book The Jordan Rules.

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    After a long, cliched narrative about his goals and aspirations following a six-year career that has failed to play in the postseason, LaVine declined to answer directly whether the Bulls must keep or let go of Boylen.

    "That's not my role in the organization," he says.

    Technically, he's right. Only the GM can hire and fire a coach.

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    But if LaVine wants to be the leader of the under-achieving, underperforming Bulls, he must take it upon himself to be the voice of the locker room.

    And that voice must be unwavering, loud, and assertive.

    A great leader doesn't straddle the fence when a crisis requires tough decisions. A great leader decisively picks a side, vigorously defends that choice, and then advocates for it with all his might and power.

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    Look, I'm not saying Boylen should be fired. He's a good coach that was abruptly thrown into a bad situation, inheriting an injury-hit, dysfunctional team that carried more issues than the ABS-CBN franchise renewal.

    What I'm saying is that Zach should either support or sabotage Boylen. This is sports, man. Winners and losers are clearly defined. You're in or you're out. There is nothing in between,

    I get it. Zach probably doesn't want that proverbial "blood in his hands" if Boylen were to be fired. But Boylen was given enough time and opportunity to salvage a sinking ship and for reasons that are not entirely his own, he simply didn't.


      Guilt shouldn't be factored in here, only performance and accountability. Boylen's record since assuming the top job last December 2018 is 39-84, a poor 31.7 percent winning clip.

      If I were Zach, I wouldn't worry about his coach's future and wellbeing. Boylen has six zeros in his paycheck and, if fired, his severance pay will be as fat as the treasury of Oman. And with his credentials, he will land on his feet as an assistant somewhere.

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      With reporters gathering and the basketball world listening, Zach LaVine was given the platform to speak his mind.

      All he did was drop the mic.

      NOT AGAIN. The weather was nice here in Chicago on Sunday, a baking hot 80 degrees. But I still refused to wear shorts.

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      The reason?

      Well, I read another fairy tale that was blowing up so much smoke up my ass.

      Per multiple outlets, Manny Pacquiao is supposedly angling a climb to a catchweight near 160 pounds to fight Genady G. Golovkin, aka GGG. The story took wings after Freddie Roach said he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Senator would go in that direction.

      PacMan versus GGG is not the "Fight Of The Century. This is what the Brits call 'flight of fancy."

      I'm surprised that Roach even entertained this thought considering that he once declared Terence Crawford and Errol Spence to be too dangerous for Manny. Propagating this GGG fantasy is like telling a boy, "Hey, don't pet the dogs because they might bite 'ya. But you can frolic with this hungry lion right here."

      When you marry pandemic with boredom, you breed nonsense stories.


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      PHOTO: AP
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