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Paxson admits mistake and apologizes; wants to move on


Also: Del Negro relieved as Bulls Head Coach

Vinny Del Negro may be out of the Bulls organization, but EVP-Basketball Operations John Paxson isn’t going anywhere.

Paxson spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday about an incident that happened following the Bulls’ loss at home to the Suns on March 30.

“I want to apologize to the Bulls organization, our fans and to Vinny for what happened March 30 after the Phoenix game,” said Paxson. “I hold myself accountable and responsible. I am not at all proud of how I handled the situation. I felt that at the time I was representing and standing up for a policy we put in place. I felt that way.

“But there's no question I was wrong in how I handled it,” Paxson said of the dispute, which reportedly centered around the minutes of center Joakim Noah, who was battling plantar fasciitis at the time. “During the incident, I was not proud of the language I used or how I represented myself or the Bulls. And if I could have that moment back, I'd take it back. It was a heat of the moment type of thing, and it's something I'm not proud of.”

Both Forman and Paxson stated that Paxson wished to publicly discuss the incident prior to Tuesday, but a decision was made not to do so in order to minimize distractions during the team’s playoff run.

“You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who cares more about the Bulls organization,” said Paxson. “That's probably why I'm most embarrassed, because I put the Bulls in a bad position with the way I did handle it.”

Paxson added that he spoke with Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and General Manager Gar Forman immediately after the incident and apologized to them, stressing that his intentions were to protect his player.

Though he declined to expand on details of the incident itself, he acknowledged his wrongdoing and cited the passion he’s had ever since he was a child.

“As a player, ever since I was a little kid, I was always the guy who would scrap and claw and fight to protect myself and get to where I was,” said Paxson. “Those things are fine when you're playing, but obviously it's not in this situation. I take full responsibility and accountability for it. I learned from it. I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, and I did in this instance. I'll learn from it and move on.”

With respect to his role within the organization, Paxson said he has “great, great trust” in Forman and that Forman will be the one making recommendations to Reinsdorf. He talked about his own position as an extension of Reinsdorf’s in which he “keeps an eye on the organization.”

Following this past season’s trade deadline, Paxson travelled frequently to scout this summer’s potential free agents. It’s an element of his job he continues to enjoy, he said.

“I think we have a terrific chance this summer to make huge strides as an organization,” stated Paxson. “It’s a position we haven’t been in for a long time. We finally have an All-Star player [in Derrick Rose] and we have some young talent that is going to get better. We have the [financial] flexibility to really improve our team. Like Gar, I’m really, really excited about the prospects this summer.”

Audio—Paxson apologizes for an incident between him and Del Negro and discusses his role within the organization moving forward (05.04.10):

Audio—General Manager Gar Forman announces the dismissal of Vinny Del Negro as head coach, talks about the organization’s coaching search, and how it might impact free agency this offseason (Parts I & II – 05.04.10):

Vinny Del Negro and John Paxson

“I want to apologize to the Bulls organization, our fans and to Vinny for what happened March 30 after the Phoenix game,” said Paxson. “I hold myself accountable and responsible. I am not at all proud of how I handled the situation. I felt that at the time I was representing and standing up for a policy we put in place. But there's no question I was wrong in how I handled it."