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Report: Some within Bulls thought Zach LaVine and Jim Boylen would physically fight

Former Bulls coach Jim Boylen and Zach LaVine

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 17: Head coach Jim Boylen of the Chicago Bulls meets with Zach LaVine #8 in the third quarter against the Atlanta Hawks during a preseason game at the United Center on October 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

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Zach LaVine and Bulls coach Jim Boylen – after early quarreling – appeared to reach a high point in their relationship when LaVine offered to pay Boylen’s fine for an ejection late last season.

But even that became contentious.

Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic:

What LaVine didn’t appreciate, according to a person familiar with the situation, was Boylen leaking the gesture to the press. What was intended as an olive branch quickly turned into a publicity stunt orchestrated by Boylen to make himself look good.

Their relationship deteriorated further this season. Given a quick hook in a November game, LaVine was once again bitter toward Boylen.


LaVine was angry after the game and there was a minor concern among members of the traveling party that things could turn physical between the two prior to the team flight to Charlotte.

A player fighting his coach would cross a bright line. There’s a reason we think of Latrell Sprewell and P.J. Carlesimo whenever this comes up. It is the example. NBA players just don’t attack their coaches. The mere suspicion from fellow team members, accurate or not, is noteworthy.

But this speaks to just how much Chicago players resented Boylen. And why the Bulls fired him.

For his part, LaVine channeled his anger much more productively.