Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG sgreen­berg@suntimes.com @slgreen­berg

Eleven weeks ago in this space, I called Chicago the “dis­as­ter area of the coach­ing pro­fes­sion.” What can I say? I was feel­ing char­i­ta­ble. “Of the 13 cities or mar­kets with at least one team in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB,” I wrote, “Chicago sim­ply has to rank last or, best case, tied for last as far as the col­lec­tive ac­com­plish­ments and rep­u­ta­tions of its coaches.”

First of all, please, some­body stop me be­fore I quote my­self again. Talk about gauche.

But I wasn’t wrong. With one good season — and an­other one stained by poor de­ci­sion­mak­ing and zero quar­ter­back de­vel­op­ment — the Bears’ Matt Nagy was the clos­est thing we had to some­thing to brag about. The White Sox’ Rick Ren­te­ria had yet to catch a whiff of a win­ning season as a man­ager. The Black­hawks’ Jeremy Col­li­ton was a baby be­hind the bench. The Cubs’ David Ross was a rookie-in-wait­ing.

Oh, and then there was the Bulls’ Jim Boylen. A coach I’d once re­ferred to as “Pop Zero,” an ul­tra-light ver­sion of the for­mer boss whose name he loved to drop, the great Gregg Popovich. But now I’m quot­ing my­self again.

Boylen in­vok­ing Popovich’s name dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the me­dia smacked un­can­nily of for­mer Illi­nois foot­ball coach Tim Beck­man do­ing like­wise with an old boss of his, Ur­ban Meyer. It was like your Un­cle Earl hold­ing court on the art of method act­ing be­cause he once was an ex­tra in a Daniel Day-Lewis film. Meyer and Popovich are coach­ing masters. Beck­man and Boylen are sit­com P.E. teach­ers.

But Boylen is yes­ter­day’s news now, kicked to the curb, eighty-sixed by the Bulls on Fri­day in a de­ci­sion that was com­i­cally over­due. Con­grats to new vice pres­i­dent of basketball op­er­a­tions Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas, who now can move on to even more vex­ing ques­tions such as “Which way is up?” and “Did I re­mem­ber to turn off the cof­fee ma­chine?”

It would seem Kar­niso­vas couldn’t pick a worse suc­ces­sor to Boylen if he tried. Pre­sum­ably, though, Kar­niso­vas will aim for a lot more than just mod­est im­prove­ment. Will he suc­ceed? Chicago’s stand­ing in the coach­ing pro­fes­sion sure could use a “yes.”

Our coach­ing scene has got­ten, it must be said, a bit brighter since 11 weeks ago. For one thing, sports is happening again, and thank good­ness for that. But Ross has skip­pered the Cubs to the best record in base­ball, cer­tainly giv­ing the im­pres­sion that he’s cut out for this kind of work. Col­li­ton and the Hawks have had a some­what promis­ing time in their Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta, bub­ble. Ren­te­ria has a fine chance to win more games than he loses for a change.

Still, we’re aw­fully small-time com­pared with, just to name one ex­am­ple, the Los An­ge­les mar­ket. There, you’ll find one coach or man­ager af­ter an­other — Doc Rivers, Sean McVay, Dave Roberts, Joe Mad­don — whose rep­u­ta­tion pre­cedes him.

Wouldn’t it be ter­rific if the Bulls hired some­one like that? Truth­fully, I’d set­tle for some­one who con­vinc­ingly talks a big game like that. Can we at least get some­one who comes across more like a star than like a ran­dom co­worker in the next cu­bi­cle?

Back to 11 weeks ago: Also at that time, the Sun-Times ran a Twit­ter poll ask­ing fans to vote for Chicago’s best vet­eran head coach. Ross hadn’t made his de­but yet, so the choices were — quite the undis­tin­guished group — Ren­te­ria, Nagy, Col­li­ton and Boylen.

Care to take a fly­ing stab at which guy re­ceived 1.8% of the vote? Here’s a hint: “Pop Zero” wasn’t far off at all. Even in this town, at that time, Boylen stood out for his in­abil­ity to stand out.

We need a stand­out. The Bulls are on the clock. ✶


Jim Boylen

Rick Ren­te­ria

Matt Nagy

Jeremy Col­li­ton

David Ross

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