Following the announcement that Vinny Del Negro would be relieved of his head coaching duties with the Chicago Bulls, the team’s VP-of-Basketball Operations took the podium and apologized for his role in the heated altercation the two exchanged – following an Overtime win against the Portland Trail Blazers, in which Joakim Noah (plantar faciitis) went over his pre-set playing time:
“I hold myself accountable and responsible. I am not at all proud of how I handled the situation. I felt that at the time that I was representing and standing up for a policy that we had put in place. I felt that way. But there was no question that I was wrong in how I handled it. During that incident, I am not proud of the language I used and how I represented myself or the Bulls. And if I could do it over again, and have that moment back, I’d take it back. It was a heat-of-the-moment type of thing, and it’s something, again, that I’m not proud of. I do know that I care – you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who cares more about the Bulls’ organization. That’s probably why I’m most embarrassed because I put the Bulls in a bad position with the way I did handle it. So I just wanted today to make a public apology. I talked to Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Gar [Forman] immediately after the incident and apologized to them, but it’s not something I’m proud of. My intentions were to protect our player, and what [policies] we had put in place, and obviously I did not handle it the right way.”
In a press conference of his own, following the firing of Vinny Del Negro, Chicago Bulls’ General Manager Gar Forman said that he told Paxson to wait to speak about the altercation until the season was over because the Bulls were in the midst of a Playoff-push and did not want the incident to be a distraction to the players.
The Bulls’ management also thanked Del Negro for his services. Del Negro like-wise thanked the Bulls’ organization for the opportunity, and praised the players as well.