Two seasons ago, the Chicago Bulls, to the surprise of many, announced Vinny Del Negro as their new head coach. The media knew it was a questionable hire, the fans knew it was questionable, and I knew. There are certain players in the game today that announcers will say, “he’s going to be a head coach in this league when his playing days are over.” I don’t remember anyone saying that about Vinny D. Somehow though, he managed to convince the Bulls he was the right man for the job. In two seasons, though, he has won over a lot of the basketball community – not necessarily for his success on the court, but in large part due to the animosity he has dealt with during his tenure. The Bulls were in rebuilding mode. They were coming off a 33-49 season, but they had reason for optimism with the arrival of #1 draft pick, Derrick Rose. They also had a solid core of young players in Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, among others. In his first season at the helm, Del Negro took the team to the postseason with a 41-41 record and ultimately took the defending champion Boston Celtics to the full seven games in their opening round series. Despite all that, Del Negro remained on the hot seat in which he was firmly planted very shortly into his career. The team clearly was on the ascent though, as no one expected them to make that much noise in the playoffs. This year, it was no secret that management was waiting for any excuse to can him. Still though, he led the team to another .500 season, but this time only managed one win against the top seed Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now that the team has gone out on a losing note, John Paxson and co. finally had an excuse to relieve Del Negro of his duties. Regardless of his success, or lack thereof, many fans are in agreement that Vinny was a bit shafted in his tenure in Chicago and was never really given the freedom to succeed. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports begs to differ, but that’s nothing really out of the ordinary. I just don’t know who could do a better job with that squad. Sure, Derrick Rose is a nice centerpiece, but are the Bulls really a contender? John Calipari has already reportedly expressed interest, but we all know what happened in his last NBA endeavor. Do I think Del Negro is the best head coach out there? Certainly not. Do I think he did an admiral job considering what he had to work with? Absolutely. There are two things I know about Vinny D…..
- He once lifted me up so I could dunk a basketball at Arco Arena during his days a player in Sacramento
- He likes to walk around the locker room naked, according to former teammates.
What does this have to do with coaching? Absolutely nothing. I just had to share those two tidbits about Vinny and likely wouldn’t have another chance to do so. While I hope he gets another shot at the helm of an NBA team, I’m also hoping neither of my local franchises are looking for a new coach. The Kings seem pretty content giving Paul Westphal another year to try and improve on an overachieving 2009-2010 campaign, but the Warriors I am worried about. Many feel that Don Nelson checked out a while ago, and now that he has the all-time Wins record, one can only imagine what he will decide this offseason. Here’s hoping Vinny gets another shot, but just somewhere else.