Apparently a front office altercation has lit a fire under the Chicago Bulls.
Yahoo! Sports, citing sources, reported that executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson shoved coach Del Negro twice in the chest and had to be restrained in a confrontation over Joakim Noah's minutes after the March 30 home game against Phoenix.
Since the alleged incident, the floundering Bulls have won five of seven games and now hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Paxson confronted Del Negro in the coach's office at the United Center because he was ticked off that Noah had played too many minutes against the Suns. (The forward is recovering from an injured left foot and the team has set limits on how much he can play).
Paxson allegedly grabbed Del Negro's tie, jabbed him twice into his chest, and challenged him to a fight, Yahoo! Sports reported.
Del Negro apparently did not fight back and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between the two, sources said.
Del Negro simply said "no comment on that" after the Bulls' victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
"I go about my job everyday no matter what happens. I'm a competitor. I've been involved in the game a long time. I love the challenge of it. All the other things that happen pretty much stay internally," he added.