GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Unification is the name of the game for Jim Boylen
The Grand Rapids native joined police officers in his hometown for a Unity in the Community event, talking to kids about everything from basketball to social justice to racial inequality.
“I just think we have to tell the truth.We can’t cover things up. We’ve made mistakes. Mistakes have happened. We’ve got to own up to those mistakes,” explained Boylen. “It’s a difficult time. It’s raw right now and it should be. I’m just hoping we can use this moment to be better, all of us.”
Boylen knows he has to better on the court, too.
The Bulls finished 21 games under .500, bringing Boylen’s record to 39-84 since taking over for Fred Hoiberg. Only eight teams were left out of the Orlando playoff picture, but there has been talk of a second bubble, which could help the Bulls and Boylen build up confidence for next season.
“We have a young team. We were 23 and a half years-old. We had an injury-laden season. We need to play. We need to compete. We played very hard. We were a hard-playing team, but we want to keep that edge going into next year. It’s hard to do that without the competition part of it. We’re hoping we can have some of that.”
Critics believe Boylen’s days in Chicago are numbered with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley replacing John Paxson and Gar Forman in the front office.
But Boylen sounds encouraged about the bond he’s forming with his new VP and GM.
“The relationship has gone really well. We communicate every day. I think they understand where we were, what we’re trying to get to. They’ve been very supportive and collaborative. It’s a process to build this team into what it can be. I just like the fact that we have a relationship already. It’s never perfect. Nothing’s perfect. You just work at it. Tell the truth. You get your guys to play hard. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Coaching is in Boylen’s blood. He’s been doing it since he was a 22-year-old graduate assistant at Michigan State.
“I do look forward to going to work. I like to teach. I like to coach. I’m an educator not really a legislator. I’m here to support this. Helping guys get better, having guys thank you for helping them. Sometimes some time goes by before you get that thank you, but it happens. I’ve been at every level, so every job I’ve ever gotten has been a big moment for me.”
It took Boylen close to three decades to get his first NBA head coaching gig.
Whether or not he’ll be to keep it is up in the air, like almost everything else these days.