You can't judge a coach by his record—at least not in Chicago, where the Bulls' Tim Floyd had lost 180 of 226 games through Sunday. Floyd's winning percentage of .204 is the worst of any coach in NBA history with at least 150 games, but his boss readily concedes Floyd isn't the problem. "He's doing a good job," says VP of basketball operations Jerry Krause.
No, the problem is the absence of talent provided by Krause since he hired Floyd in July 1998, one month after Michael Jordan won his final ring. How would Phil Jackson like to take the floor with Bryce Drew, Fred Hoiberg and Brad Miller, who were starters for last year's 15-67 Bulls? Of the 40 players Floyd coached in Chicago before this season, 26 are no longer in the NBA. Says the 47-year-old Floyd, "I try not to equate my self-esteem, who I am as a man, with wins."
Floyd was a college coach with a .651 winning percentage and only one losing season in 12 years when his friend Krause lured him from Iowa State. At the time, Jordan had yet to announce his second "retirement," and Floyd was lambasted for daring to imagine that five NCAA tournament appearances qualified him to take over a veteran team that had won six NBA titles.
Those negative perceptions have vanished, largely because Floyd has absorbed his wounds with a rare dignity. He's respected for getting the Bulls to play hard despite their inadequacies, and he has remained loyal to his boss, insisting that Krause has been wrongly accused of everything from pushing Jordan out the door to telling prospective draft pick Darius Miles that Chicago wouldn't let him wear cornrows.
Every morning Floyd meditates for 45 minutes, planning a strategy for the day and putting on a game face that will convince the players that he has not given up. "The losing has altered the way I coach," says Floyd, whose hopes of a turnaround were hurt when injuries to three of his starters helped ensure a familiar 1-11 start. "When you're losing, players become really sensitive. I catch myself not being as tough with them as I normally would be. If you go too far, you run the risk of a team quitting on you."
Now that Krause has finally committed to rebuilding around high school rookies Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, Floyd says he can see the Bulls turning the corner—in three or four years. How much failure can he take? "I wouldn't feel comfortable walking away with the record as it is," Floyd says. If he were to decide someday to cut his losses and return to college ball, no one would blame him. Let the record state that Floyd, in all categories but one, is a winner.