April 14, 2010
Sometimes when Kelly and I argue — usually about which Beatles record is the best — things get pretty heated. He's a fiery guy, and I have a tendency to egg people on with sarcasm. And while we might disagree, things never turn from heated to violent because we're both grown-ups, and also because we live 138 miles away from each other.
I guess that means the inner workings of Ball Don't Lie are somewhat more stable than that of the Chicago Bulls. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski has the details of a totally professional skirmish between Bulls executive vice president John Paxson and head coach Vinny Del Negro.
After a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30, an irate Paxson walked into the coach's office at the United Center and confronted Del Negro over a narrow breach of a management-imposed minutes limit on injured forward Joakim Noah(notes). Sources said Paxson first grabbed a hold of Del Negro's tie and seemingly tried to provoke him with two successive jabs into his chest. Paxson was even heard to angrily challenge Del Negro to a fight.
There were several staff members present, sources said, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between Paxson and Del Negro and pulled Paxson away.
Sources said Del Negro did not retaliate, mostly out of fear the incident could be used to void his contract without pay or hurt future career opportunities elsewhere. The Bulls have dispatched lawyers to interview witnesses about the incident, sources said.
Awesome. That's just a really mature way for two millionaire adults to handle a playing time dispute. Sometimes you just have to fight your employees. That's the first rule of business in every leadership manual available.
Even better than the fact that this story happened in the first place is that it surfaced right in the midst of the Bulls' playoff run. It shouldn't be too big of a distraction, I don't think. I mean, it's not like reporters are going to be asking about the fight at every game.
Oh, wait. Yes they will. Just like ESPN's Nick Friedell did.
"All those things are internal, I have no comment on that," Del Negro said after the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 101-93. "Whatever happens is between the organization and myself, and the people involved.
"I go about my job every day, no matter what happens," Del Negro said Tuesday. "I'm a competitor, and I've been involved in the game a long time. I love the competition, love the challenge of it all.
"All the other things that happen are internal. But of course, this is the NBA and when things happen ... it's going to come out. You handle it, be professional with it, show great leadership and go about your business."
Great timing. Surely this won't loom over the team for the next few months while they try to make the playoffs, win a series and attract marquee free agents. As a Bulls fan, I'm super excited this happened now. It should be great marketing.
By the way, "Revolver" is the best Beatles record.