Bernstein: What's In A Stacey King Laugh?

A telling moment occurred on the Bulls' broadcast Wednesday evening.

Dan Bernstein
January 23, 2020 - 1:34 pm
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(670 The Score) Whenever it is that we look back on Jim Boylen's unfortunate tenure as Bulls head coach, we will remember what television analyst Stacey King said during the broadcast Wednesday night.

NBC Sports Chicago reporter Leila Rahimi told us that Boylen had said at practice the day prior that Bulls reserve center Luke Kornet's skills reminded him of those of Robert Horry, the seven-time NBA champion famous for making decisive playoff baskets.

King's reaction was an unforgettably hyperbolic. "Whaaaaaaaat?" was followed by a giggle that turned into a snicker like that of Ernie from Sesame Street. 

When King composed himself, he said, "Oh my goodness! Robert Horry? Robert Horry was a great two-way player. Won rings, too. Oh my goodness."

This mattered, in that it came from the most prominently positioned basketball commentator affiliated with the organization, on the Bulls broadcast itself, as the game was going on. While the team-sanctioned pregame and postgame crew on NBC Sports Chicago has been impressively fearless and honest in its criticism and observations all throughout this disappointing season, King's own candor has often been delivered in the context of the action unfolding on the court. Any shot at Boylen could be inferred easily by the viewer when King says things like "that can't happen" or calls attention to a lineup problem, oddly used timeout or tactical decision that was beyond the responsibility of an individual player, but the remarks Wednesday felt different.

That's why it got the attention it did on social media in the moment and feels significant even now, as we digest the fact that King laughed so derisively in response to a thought expressed by the Bulls head coach. King spoke for all of us who agree with how absurd it is to compare the undrafted fringe player on the back end of the roster of a bad team with a former first-rounder who played in 244 playoff games and was a material reason for titles and parades.

It was just the latest ill-considered attempt by Boylen to link himself to the kind of success he has been unable to recreate as a head coach, his insecure way of trumpeting the bona fides of happening to be on certain benches at certain times. Boylen sells sizzle because there's no steak: He's suspiciously eager to give us his connections to Rudy Tomjanovich and Gregg Popovich and Robert Horry because he seems to think it provides him some greater legitimacy, when it only keeps calling it into further question.

Any professional responsibility King may have felt to exercise some diplomacy in that moment was overridden by his well-honed basketball sensibilities. Boylen's reach of a comparison was so patently ridiculous that it got the treatment it deserved. Even in a city that has had its share of tension between team broadcasters and various coaches, players and executives, Wednesday night brought something notable.

The team's own television analyst was presented an opinion expressed by the coach and gave it the on-air equivalent of "GTFOH."

Eventually Boylen will, and that moment will be a small part of his legacy.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.