According to sources to Yahoo! sports, after a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30th, Bulls vice president John Paxson entered coach Vinny Del Negro's office in an irate fashion regarding the playing time of Joakim Noah.
Sources say Paxson grabbed a hold of Del Negro's tie and gave him two jabs to the chest, even challenging him to a fight.
Coach Bernie Bickerstaff was said to have pulled Paxson away from Del Negro.
Sources stated Del Negro did not retaliate, for fear of the voiding of his contract leading to no pay and hurting the opportunity for future employment chances.
After a Feb. 26th game against Portland, Paxson and general manager Gar Forman also became angry when Noah's minutes exceeded the limit management that team doctors had specified.
Noah played 27 minutes in the 111-105 loss to the Suns on the March 30 game when the Paxson incident supposedly occurred.
Noah's minutes have been a topic of conversation since Del Negro elected to only play Noah for 12 seconds in the extra two frames of the double overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets, with the Bulls having a chance to take a one game lead on the Toronto Raptors for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Can you blame Del Negro at this point?
His job has been threatened more than enough times during the first two months of this season.
Why would he do anything to upset management this late in the season?
If management is literally going to fight Del Negro over playing Noah 27 minutes in a tight game against a good team like the Suns, why wouldn't they stab him over playing Noah more than 35 minutes and 51 seconds in a game against the Nets?
The DelNegro-Paxson Saga Shows how Soft the Chicago Media Can Be; What this Means for 2010 Free Agency
Given Sam Smith's immense sources and basketball contacts through the years, you know he was aware of this story.
So instead of Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski's breaks the story. Just like he had about the team's lack of backing in December when the local outlets failed to report that management was searching for his in-season replacement.
I don't know if the Sun-Times even covers Bulls basketball anymore as John Jackson plays both reporter and columnist and never really iterates a line of insight. I'm still befuddled as to what he does exactly.
So this, the hard-cracking newspapers vs the digital world of Yahoo, shows that reputation is still keeping some reporters afloat.
K.C. Johnson was supposedly trying to be respectful of DelNegro since he is sure to be unemployed in a week or two.
But wasn't DelNegro the one who leaked the story to the papers?
That's why "sources" leak anything in the first place unless it's over some whiskey stupor at the hotel - but those days between reporter and coach have faded. They have something to gain by dispensing some protected information.
So, sure, the Chicago outlets whiffed on this one and Sam Smith plays this one down again. It's just a friendly feud. Never mind that it got physical. Of course when this was about Tyrus Thomas disrespecting DelNegro, it was news.
I don't get it. Don't reporters break news?
Pax-Vinny fight another blight on Jerry Reinsdorf
This stuff never mattered when Michael Jordan owned the Bulls.
During the Jordan regime, sideshows were an entertaining diversion from the monotony of those long, arduous NBA championship seasons. Hey, Dennis Rodman just kicked a photographer and got suspended for 11 games, what a hoot!
Nothing really mattered, because when Rodman would miss 11 games, the Bulls would go 9-2, lead the NBA with a 42-6 record and still be on pace to win an NBA-record 72 games. When Jordan would cause a stir by going to Atlantic City during the playoffs, he'd score 54 points against the Knicks a few nights later and render the Atlantic City episode a non-story.
But ever since Jerry Reinsdorf took over after the 1997-98 season, every off-the-court issue has had long-term, big-picture ramifications. If Jerry Krause would have assaulted Phil Jackson, it would have been written off as creative tension. When John Paxson grabs Vinny Del Negro by the tie and challenges him to a fight, it's a shakes the foundation of the entire Bulls organization -- from the bottom straight to the top. The absolute top.
Jerry Reinsdorf's desk.
If Reinsdorf still owns the Bulls, he needs to speak up now, because the latest embarrassment for the Bulls organization reflects on him more than anyone else. If published reports are as accurate as they appear to be, the guy Reinsdorf hand-picked to return his organization to glory initiated a confrontation with the coach Reinsdorf at least indirectly hired. I kind of doubt Paxson would have confronted Mike D'Antoni or Doug Collins -- or even had reason to do so.
If Reinsdorf wouldn't hire Collins because he didn't want to fire him, he never should have hired Paxson -- because he's going to have to fire him sooner or later at the rate Pax is going. The sloppy apparent "mis-firing" of Del Negro in December, the whole Joakim Noah-minutes ordeal and now this.
Derrick Rose is carrying the team like never before -- he's averaging 24.9 points and 41.6 minutes over the last eight games -- and the Bulls still are scrapping and clawing for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and the right to get wiped out by a refreshed LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the first round.
And the price of Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade just went up, because any agent knows how badly Paxson needs a superstar player for a shot at turning the Bulls into a serious playoff contender.
Source: Not first incident with Del Negro
Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro initiated the physical contact with executive vice president John Paxson during an altercation on March 30 -- contrary to a report that painted Paxson as the aggressor -- a source close to the situation told ESPNChicago.com.
Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that Paxson grabbed Del Negro by the tie, jabbed him twice in the chest and seemingly challenged him to a fight because Del Negro exceeded the time limit management set for Joakim Noah, who has been recovering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. In Yahoo Sports' report it was suggested that Del Negro didn't retaliate against Paxson during the altercation because he was worried the Bulls could void his contract.
However, a source close to the situation disputed who initiated that argument, and said that it wasn't the first altercation Del Negro has had with management. The source said that Del Negro and Bulls general manager Gar Forman had an altercation in Forman's office that was similar, but did not give details.
"So this was not the first time [Del Negro] exhibited this behavior," the source said.
A call placed to Del Negro on Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.
The relationship between Paxson and Del Negro has been deteriorating for some time and reached a head over the use of Noah, who has been hurting since mid-January. Del Negro, the source said, directly defied orders by Paxson and Forman in playing Noah seven minutes longer than ordered to against the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 26 when Noah was "clearly hurting," according to the source.
"[Del Negro] put his own interest ahead of the Bulls," the source said.
Noah missed the next 10 games, all Bulls losses.