CHICAGO — After Chicago Bulls players discussed the idea of boycotting Sunday afternoon’s practice, Zach LaVine spoke with head coach Jim Boylen one-on-one and tried to clear the air to forge a path forward.
LaVine said he wouldn’t characterize the interaction as an apology, but rather he had to “elaborate on thoughts.”
“You just want to be real with people,” LaVine told ESPN. “There shouldn’t be any clouds. I think of myself as one of the leaders on the team. I just wanted to voice my opinion to them.”
He continued: “This is a business, this isn’t a dictatorship. We are all grown men, so everybody has a voice.”
On Saturday night and Sunday morning, some Bulls players texted each other with the idea of skipping practice because they were frustrated by Boylen subbing out all five players twice during the Bulls’ 56-point loss to the Celtics and his subsequent comments about the team’s “embarrassing play.”
The team ultimately decided to show up at the Advocate Center and hold a players-only meeting followed by a meeting with coaches. President John Paxson and general manager Gar Foreman attended the second meeting. After those meetings, LaVine talked to Boylen separately.
In the second meeting on Sunday, the idea of forming a leadership committee was discussed, multiple sources told ESPN. The idea is that in the future, those appointed to the committee would be able to act as a liaison between the players and coaches.
It has been made clear that Boylen has been empowered and encouraged by Bulls management to use a firm hand in changing the Bulls’ culture. The way Boylen handled Sunday’s meetings has reinforced management’s belief in the new coach, sources said. They are fully on-board with Boylen’s tough-love leadership style.
In that second meeting, sources said, Boylen explained to the team that he had not planned on holding a grueling practice Sunday but instead had planned a light workout. He asserted that the team would need to learn to trust him.
Boylen told reporters that initially, he had planned on having a tougher practice but after thinking it over, changed his mind. He said that his change in plans had nothing to do with getting wind of players’ plans to not show up.
“I have the prerogative to change my mind,” Boylen said on Monday night before the Bulls 108-89 loss the Kings.