John Paxson

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John Paxson
John Paxson in 2009.jpeg
Paxson at the White House in 2009
Chicago Bulls
PositionSenior advisor
Personal information
Born (1960-09-29) September 29, 1960 (age 62)
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolArchbishop Alter (Kettering, Ohio)
CollegeNotre Dame (19791983)
NBA draft1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 19th overall
Selected by the San Antonio Spurs
Playing career1983–1994
PositionPoint guard
Number4, 5
Coaching career1995–1996
Career history
As player:
19831985San Antonio Spurs
19851994Chicago Bulls
As coach:
1995–1996Chicago Bulls (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As assistant coach:

Career statistics
Points5,560 (7.2 ppg)
Rebounds906 (1.2 rpg)
Assists2,758 (3.6 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats at

John MacBeth Paxson (born September 29, 1960) is an American basketball administrator and former player who was vice president of basketball operations for the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 2009 to 2020. He was their general manager from 2003 to 2009. Paxson played eleven NBA seasons for the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls, winning three championships as a member of the Bulls. He was an All-American college player at the University of Notre Dame.

High school career[edit]

Paxson attended Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio, following in the footsteps of his elder brother, Jim, who would go on to a star career at the University of Dayton, and, later, in the NBA, as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. By his senior year, John was considered one of the top guards in the country and was named to the 1979 McDonald's All-American Team, joining such future college and NBA standouts as Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, and Byron Scott in the game.

College career[edit]

Paxson played collegiate basketball at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. In 1980-81, his sophomore year, Paxson led the Fighting Irish in assists with a career-high 138 that season. He earned his first All-America recognition as a junior in 1981-82, averaging 16.4 points and dishing out 4.7 assists. The following year, Paxson led Notre Dame to a 19-10 record, averaging a career-high 17.7 points per game and tallying 112 assists en route to claiming his second All-America selection. He also helped guide the team to NCAA appearances in 1980 and 1981. For his career, he was a .526 shooter from the field, presaging his sharpshooting prowess in the pros. He finished his four-year stint at Notre Dame with 1,366 points (19th in Notre Dame history), 411 assists (seventh), 133 steals (eighth), 86 games started (13th), and field goal percentage (20th). His four-year average was 12.2 points per game.

Academic honors[edit]

Paxson graduated from Notre Dame in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration and a 3.17 GPA and was a two-time Academic All-American. Bob Arnzen, Pat Garrity, Tim Abromaitis and Paxson are the only four basketball players in Notre Dame's history to earn Academic All-America accolades more than once.

On June 6, 2005, Paxson was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, along with five other celebrities.

NBA career[edit]

Paxson was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the 19th overall pick of the 1983 NBA draft. In two seasons with the Spurs, he averaged 4.9 points per game and 2.9 assists. He then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bulls, who teamed him in the backcourt with Michael Jordan. Paxson proved to be a valuable 3-point marksman and clutch shooter in the Bulls' first 3 championships.

Paxson is best known for his championship-winning shot during Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals. The Bulls were down by two in the last seconds of Game 6 of the finals series held at the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, before Paxson shot a wide-open three point shot with 3.9 seconds remaining, giving the Bulls a 99-98 lead and their third consecutive NBA title. In his NBA career, he started 369 games, and averaged 7.2 points and 3.6 assists per game.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

After Paxson's retirement, Bulls head coach Phil Jackson hired him as an assistant coach for the 1995–96 season. The Bulls won the title that year, fueled by Michael Jordan's return and the addition of another eventual Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman. Paxson resigned shortly after the season to join Neil Funk on radio broadcasts, saying "I knew full well the time commitment coaching takes. But after that year I missed my wife and kids so much. I realized that if I didn’t prioritize, I’d miss everything that they were doing." When Jordan joined the Washington Wizards, he asked Paxson to consider the head coaching job, but Paxson declined for the same reasons.[2]

Executive career[edit]

Chicago Bulls[edit]

In April 2003, Paxson left his broadcasting position to become General Manager for the Bulls after the resignation of longtime Bulls general manager Jerry Krause.

After a promising conclusion to the 2002–03 NBA season, Paxson pledged that the team would make the playoffs. He made headlines by signing former icon Scottie Pippen after years of bad relations between the franchise and one of the stars of their championship years. However, the Bulls opened the 2003–04 NBA season in sloppy and uninspired form, and Paxson opted to begin reshaping the character of the team by trading leading scorer Jalen Rose for Antonio Davis and firing friend and former teammate coach Bill Cartwright, replacing him with Scott Skiles. These moves had virtually no impact at all, and the Bulls finished Paxson's first season as general manager with a 23–59 record, second-worst in the NBA.

In his second season, however, Paxson was able to reshape the franchise with remarkable speed through the draft. Kirk Hinrich made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2003-04, and the 2004–05 rookie class yielded four major contributors, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon and Andrés Nocioni. After a long drought dating back to Jordan's departure, the Bulls returned to the playoffs and posted the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, a 24-game improvement from the previous year. The Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, by the Washington Wizards despite having home-court advantage, a better regular-season record and a 2-0 lead in the best of seven playoff series. The absence of starting center and leading scorer Eddy Curry and promising small forward Luol Deng in this series played a major role, although Tyson Chandler and Kirk Hinrich both performed well.

When center Eddy Curry showed possible symptoms of a heart problem shortly before the playoffs, Paxson took a cautious approach and would not clear Curry to play without extensive DNA testing. Ultimately, Curry was traded along with Antonio Davis to the New York Knicks for Michael Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and several draft picks. This trade would give them the Knicks' first-round pick in 2006, which they eventually used to acquire Tyrus Thomas, and the right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2007. The Bulls floundered in the season that followed, but the team made a late-season run to finish at 41-41 and earn a second consecutive trip to the playoffs – as well as a second consecutive first-round exit. Eddy Curry has yet to miss another game due to a heart-related injury.

Paxson acknowledged [1] "It's no secret we need to get size in our frontcourt and we need to get a bigger guard if we can, a defensive-oriented guard. And we really need some leadership on the floor. I think our guys are still young in their development there; it's a lot to ask an entire group to assume that leadership role. So, that's the wish list, if you could get everything you wanted. I'm optimistic about this offseason. We should be, we're in a really good position; we've got good, young players and the ability to add to that."

Following the Bulls' first-round loss to eventual champion, the Miami Heat, Paxson sought to improve the Bulls' frontcourt and defensive guard play by trading for rookie forward Tyrus Thomas, drafting guard Thabo Sefolosha, and signing four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace.

The Bulls experienced an up-and-down regular season in 2006-07, winning 49 games but suffering a demoralizing loss to the New Jersey Nets in the last game of the season, dropping as a result from the 2-seed in the East to the 5-seed. Deng rewarded his general manager's loyalty by playing dominating basketball in the Bulls' first-round playoff sweep of the defending champion Heat in April 2007. But Paxson observed the Bulls' lack of a low-post threat when they were beaten by the Pistons in six games.[citation needed]

After high expectations for the 2007–08 season, the Bulls started 9-16 and were last in the Central division. He fired Scott Skiles on December 24, 2007. Saying "This was a difficult decision to make, but one that was necessary at this time. Scott helped us in many ways during his time with the Bulls; most importantly, he helped this franchise get back to respectability. I am appreciative of his hard work and the imprint that he left on our team." Over the span of five seasons with the Bulls, Skiles compiled a record of 165-172 (.490), and guided the team to the playoffs three consecutive years before getting fired. Paxson promoted assistant coach Jim Boylan to interim head coach and the Bulls finished the year with a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs. Despite having only 1.7% probability, the Bulls won the NBA Draft Lottery and selected Chicago native Derrick Rose with the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft. In June 2008, Paxson named former NBA player and scout Vinny Del Negro head coach,[3] but their relationship eventually went sour. Multiple reports surfaced that on March 30, 2010, Paxson and Del Negro got into a physical altercation [4] over the minutes of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who was recovering from a foot injury. Paxson allegedly grabbed Del Negro by the tie and shoved him.[5] Del Negro was fired a little over a month later.[6]

On May 21, 2009, Gar Forman replaced Paxson as general manager, when he was promoted to vice president of basketball operations.[7]

During Paxson's leadership of the Bulls front office, the Bulls have had below-average success. From the 2003–04 through 2018–19 seasons, they failed to make the playoffs five times; lost in the first round seven times; lost in the conference semifinals three times; and lost in the conference finals once.

On April 13, 2020, Paxson was reassigned as senior advisor of basketball operations, when the Bulls named Artūras Karnišovas executive vice president of basketball operations.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Paxson attended Le Mans Academy Military Boarding School in Indiana, where he played basketball. His father, James, played in the NBA for two years in the mid-1950s, for the Minneapolis Lakers and Cincinnati Royals, and his brother Jim played 11 years in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Boston Celtics.

NBA career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship

Regular season[edit]

1983–84 San Antonio 49 0 9.3 .445 .182 .615 0.7 3.0 0.2 0.0 2.9
1984–85 San Antonio 78 1 16.1 .509 .294 .840 0.9 2.8 0.6 0.0 6.2
1985–86 Chicago 75 3 20.9 .466 .300 .804 1.3 3.7 0.7 0.0 5.3
1986–87 Chicago 82 64 32.8 .487 .371 .809 1.7 5.7 0.8 0.1 11.3
1987–88 Chicago 81 30 23.3 .493 .347 .733 1.3 3.7 0.6 0.0 7.9
1988–89 Chicago 78 20 22.3 .480 .331 .861 1.2 3.9 0.7 0.1 7.3
1989–90 Chicago 82 82 28.8 .516 .359 .824 1.5 4.1 1.0 0.1 10.0
1990–91 Chicago 82 82 24.0 .548 .438 .829 1.1 3.6 0.8 0.0 8.7
1991–92 Chicago 79 79 24.6 .528 .273 .784 1.2 3.1 0.6 0.1 7.0
1992–93 Chicago 59 8 17.5 .451 .463 .850 0.8 2.3 0.6 0.0 4.2
1993–94 Chicago 27 0 12.7 .441 .409 .500 0.7 1.2 0.3 0.1 2.6
Career 772 369 22.4 .499 .355 .804 1.2 3.6 0.7 0.1 7.2


1985 San Antonio 5 0 22.8 .500 .222 .778 1.0 4.2 1.0 0.0 10.2
1986 Chicago 3 0 26.7 .467 .765 0.0 1.7 1.0 0.0 9.0
1987 Chicago 3 3 29.0 .500 .429 1.000 1.0 3.7 0.7 0.0 8.7
1988 Chicago 10 0 16.5 .377 .167 1.000 0.4 3.0 0.1 0.1 4.6
1989 Chicago 16 0 18.9 .474 .263 .875 0.6 2.1 0.8 0.0 5.8
1990 Chicago 15 15 26.3 .425 .444 1.000 1.5 3.6 0.6 0.0 6.1
1991 Chicago 17 17 28.6 .530 .143 1.000 1.4 3.1 0.6 0.0 8.2
1992 Chicago 22 22 27.2 .525 .444 .842 1.0 2.8 0.6 0.0 7.9
1993 Chicago 19 0 17.4 .583 .625 .727 1.0 1.7 0.3 0.1 4.9
1994 Chicago 9 0 6.4 .429 .000 0.1 0.6 0.2 0.0 0.7
Career 119 57 22.0 .494 .369 .867 0.9 2.6 0.5 0.0 6.3


  1. ^ "The official site of the NBA".
  2. ^ Wyche, Steve (2000-05-06). "Wizards Interview Paxson for Job". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  3. ^ "Bulls Name Vinny Del Negro Head Coach". Chicago Bulls. 9 May 2008.
  4. ^ Wojnarowski, Adrian (13 April 2010). "Sources: Bulls VP Paxson shoved Del Negro". Yahoo. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  5. ^ Johnson, K.C. (13 April 2010). "Del Negro, Paxson spat comes to forefront". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  6. ^ "The Chicago Bulls Finally Fire Vinny Del Negro". Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  7. ^ Jackson, John (21 May 2009). "Bulls name Gar Forman new GM; Paxson still on top". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 26 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Paxson will move into a new role as Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations". Chicago Bulls. April 13, 2020.

External links[edit]