In 2008 many eyebrows raised when the Chicago Bulls are considering Vinny Del Negro as their head coach for the upcoming season. He was a journey man for most of his basketball career playing in 7 teams two of which are Italian ball clubs. There wasn’t even a slight comparison to the battle tested Doug Collins who was the Bulls first choice but after Doug pulled out Vinny got his first coaching job with the young and talented Bulls. When the Bulls reached the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and took the Boston Celtics in 7 memorable games with a record of 7 overtimes on that season it came to me as no surprise for what Vinny achieved. He played four years under Jim Valvano while he was in college. Valvano was the 1989 ACC coach of the year and has numerous achievements including a close battle between a top seeded University of Houston who was riding a 26 game winning streak with two future basketball Hall of famers on the lineup Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. Vinny also played under Rick Adelman in Sacramento, played 6 years under Gregg Popovich and a year under George Karl so imagine inculcating all that knowledge from different coaches and meticulously adding some details to take the Bulls to the playoffs with their leader a 19 year old rookie Derrick Rose.
This time the Chicago Bulls is hanging on to the 8th and last spot for the Eastern conference but they are only a game ahead of the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors easily disposed the struggling Detroit Pistons and will be playing against the lowly Knicks for their last and final game while The Bulls have two games left and a loss can bid them goodbye to their playoff hopes. The last two games won’t be a walk in the park with two playoff contender teams in Boston and Charlotte. If the Bulls go down Vinny wants his team to go down fighting. Everyone thought they couldn’t make it last season but he silence every doubter every critic that questioned their hearts. The next few days would be a roller coaster ride and I could imagine Vinny talking in the locker room quoting Valvano’s famous quote… “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up”