In reflecting for a Yahoo! Sports article on the obstacles he overcame in leading the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs for just the second time since the franchise moved to Los Angeles, coach Vinny Del Negro took a shot at his former employer, the Chicago Bulls.
And Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson responded Monday by congratulating Del Negro for advancing to the Western Conference semifinals.
"All that (expletive) that I had to deal with John and everything, it was a total cluster(expletive)," Del Negro told Yahoo! Sports after eliminating the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. "Listen, I understand the business: I hadn't coached before, and my first job was in Chicago, where I had absolutely no (management) support. Then I came to this situation, where the history spoke for itself. But I knew it was important to keep working at the craft."
Del Negro went 41-41 in each of his two seasons with the Bulls and advanced to the playoffs both years.
Paxson confronted Del Negro after a game on March 30, 2010 over how much playing time he had given earlier that night to Joakim Noah, who was recovering from plantar fasciitis.
After Del Negro was fired on May 5, 2010, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said the confrontation had nothing to do with the coaching change, and Paxson apologized and took responsibility for the incident.
When asked for his reaction Monday to Del Negro's charge that he wasn't given support in Chicago, Paxson texted: "Congratulations to the Clippers and Vinny for beating Memphis and advancing."
Del Negro also fired back at reports earlier this season that he had lost his locker room.
"That was a joke," Del Negro told Yahoo! Sports. "That would never happen with one of my teams.
"Never, EVER happen."
Del Negro emphasized the importance he places on loyalty.
"Everybody wants to win, but you've got to know how to win," he told Yahoo! Sports. "You're in this league by hiring the right people, supporting people and everybody pulling in the same direction. And when things go bad? That's when I want to see who's standing next to me, supporting me. 'Hey coach, it's OK. Don't worry about it. We'll go get 'em.' But not what happens when you start struggling, and they're like, 'He can't coach. He's an (expletive). He's stubborn.'
"Well, that's weak. I'm a loyal guy. I don't do it like that. By the way, it's not just my job. It's the organization's job, too. You don't just lose a team. That's a copout. It was, 'Oh, they're losing. Let's pick on this guy.' And then, guess what we did? We won."