Pax shoved Del Negro, challenged him to a fight
The growing rift between coach Vinny Del Negro and team management —
namely executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar
Forman — was bound to become a major issue when the season ended but
was pushed to the forefront Tuesday by a Yahoo! Sports report.
According to the report, Paxson was upset that Del Negro had played center Joakim Noah 27 minutes March 30 against the Phoenix Suns when Noah — recovering from plantar fasciitis of the left foot — was supposed to be limited to 25.
Paxson confronted Del Negro in the coach’s office adjacent to the Bulls’ locker room at the United Center.
The report said Paxson shoved Del Negro twice, challenged him to a fight and was restrained by assistant Bernie Bickerstaff.
A source confirmed the basic details, saying Noah’s playing time was a point of contention between Paxson and Del Negro going back to the Feb. 26 game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The source also said the Bulls are conducting an internal investigation of the incident, and witnesses are being interviewed.
A team spokesman said Paxson would have no comment, adding, ”It’s an organizational matter that we’ll handle internally.”