Former Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen is the one lackluster Spurs assistant coach in an otherwise decently notable line of staff members. To be fair, he also spent the least amount of his career in San Antonio than any other former assistant coach.
He spent his first eleven seasons as an NBA assistant with the Houston Rockets, nabbing two titles during the “Dream” era (or the Michael Jordan baseball era, depending on your point of view).
He spent a season each with the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks before he earned his first head coaching position at the University of Utah. The Utes (which always makes me think of My Cousin Vinny) saw winning seasons and NCAA tournament berth in the first two seasons before slipping, eventually leading to Boylen’s termination.
Two seasons with the Pacers, a pair with the Spurs (giving Boylen his third NBA Championship in 2014) and the Chicago Bulls came calling to bring Jim on as associate head coach. Not a bad promotion after sitting beside the greatest coach in the NBA.
Chicago was going through its own mayhem placing Boylen in a position no one prefers. In the middle of his third season, he was promoted to head coach after the firing of Fred Hoiberg.
Among the craziness, the former Spurs assistant received support from Popovich, proof that once you are part of Popovich’s world, he cares:
“It means the world. He’s arguably one of the two or three best coaches of all-time that I have a relationship with and that cares about me. And I care about him.”
Boylen was fired by the Bulls in 2020 after a 39–84 record in two seasons without a playoff appearance. He was generally disliked amongst players as well as fans. He was infamously told he was “not Popovich” while attempting to instill some discipline into the losing team. His winning percentage was the second worst in franchise history.
But never count a good man out. Most recently, Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations, brought Boylen on as the NBA Draft Combine Director, keeping the former assistant in the mix for future prospects within the league.
Next up: Will Sevening
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