Jim Boylen wanted to bring some old school toughness to Chicago when he took over as coach. However, he stumbled early, learning that with the modern player, the days of “I say jump and you say how high” are long gone. There needs to be more open communication and a coach needs to earn buy-in from his players (and in the NBA, those elite players have more power than the coach).
Boylen has done that, including with some quirky ways, as detailed by Darnell Mayberry at The Athletic.
At the top of the list: Boylen has installed an old-school, factory-worker style time clock in the Bulls’ facility where players punch in on the clock to go to work each day.
And three days before the start of this year’s training camp, Boylen brought in another memory of his factory days. He ordered a time clock. He had it painted from green to red and inscribed with “Chicago Bulls” in white letters on the front. On the sides are Bulls logos. It sits on a north wall inside the Advocate Center, just off the training room, steps away from the weight room. To the right, resting in two small adjacent grey placeholders, are the players’ time cards. Each one is red and white, with the player’s name and his jersey number at the top. The custom-made cards also are adorned with a Bulls logo.
“So when guys come through the doors they punch in now,” Boylen said. “Punching in to work.”
It’s one of a number of things that seem odd from the outside, but what matters is there appears to be real buy-in from the players. That is leading to a needed culture change in Chicago.
There has been a palpable shift inside the Advocate Center, a whole new attitude and atmosphere. Players raved about it throughout training camp and the preseason. The vibe, they say, is just different.
Ultimately, the proof comes on the court, but these Bulls are poised to be in the mix for a playoff spot in the East. They get a full season of Lauri Markkanen, a year older and more mature Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr., and Chicago made a smart pickup grabbing Tomas Satoransky out of Washington to play point guard.
The Bulls are going to surprise a lot of people and be good this season. Maybe playoffs good, but certainly entertaining and competitive. Which is a big step forward.
Boylen gets a lot of credit for that. Him and his time clock.