SALT LAKE CITY — Jim Boylen was back in his old stomping grounds Saturday night as he has been every year since he was let go as the University of Utah head coach in March of 2011. This time, though, it wasn’t as an assistant NBA coach, but as the head coach for the Chicago Bulls.
Boylen, who has been an assistant at Indiana (2 years), San Antonio (2 years) and Chicago (3 years) before getting promoted to head coach in Chicago on Dec. 3, talked about his experience in Utah and was mostly positive about it.
“It’s amazing that it’s been eight years since I left Utah,” Boylen said outside the Bulls locker room before Saturday’s game. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had here. I loved it here — loved the experience. I wouldn’t be the head coach of the Bulls or the coach I am today if it wasn’t for that experience. I’m really thankful for it, this is a beautiful place and I’ve got a lot of great memories of Herbert Avenue and my kids ... it’s a good place.”
He also acknowledged that it was tough when he was let go after his second losing season following two winning seasons at Utah.
“I really wanted that thing we had there to make it work,” Boylen said. “We had some success and when it gets taken away from you, it’s really painful, so recovering from that was difficult.”
The 53-year-old Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg last month and immediately caused a stir when he was deemed a bit too demanding for some of the players, who threatened not to practice.
However, things blew over and the Bulls ran off four victories in seven games before losing their next six games, including a 37-point loss to the Warriors Friday night in Oakland.
Despite the recent losing streak, the ESPN reported earlier in the day that the Bulls were giving Boylen a revised contract that would pay him $1.6 million this year and guarantee him $1 million next year.
When asked about that, Boylen replied, “The Bulls have been very gracious to me. And very supportive of everything we’re trying to do We don’t talk about the particulars of those things, but I’ll tell you this: They’ve been fair and honest and direct and I respond to that well. It’s been great.”
Utah coach Quin Snyder is almost the same age (52) as Boylen and although the two have never coached together, they’ve cross paths at times.3 comments on this story
“He’s a terrific coach,” Snyder said. “I didn’t know him when he was here in Utah, but (Jazz assistant) Mike Wells (and Boylen) worked together in Houston for a long time. It’s a small business and he is someone that I have respected from afar for a long time.”
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz and Bulls will play in Chicago on March 23 . . . Utah will play its fifth game in a week when they take on the Detroit Pistons Monday night . . . The Jazz will go on the road for a game against the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday before returning for four more home games beginning Friday against Cleveland . . . Grayson Allen, who has missed several games with an ankle injury, entered the game with 1:59 left in the first quarter and played six first-half minutes with two points.