Perhaps the only coach in the NBA with a more disgruntled fanbase than Isiah Thomas’, Scott Skiles (above) has apologized for his criticism of Tyrus Thomas, but that’s not nearly enough to mollify mascara fiend Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Tribune, who calls the 2-8 Bulls, “consumer frauds, ripping off the Chicago sports fan like no team in recent memory.”
They can’t shoot, can’t score, can’t play defense and don’t protect the ball, but their most unforgivable sin is that they often quit. Never did I think I’d say this about a team managed by John Paxson and coached by Scott Skiles, but the Bulls are a bunch of soft, self-pitying mopes no longer worthy of your money or attention span.
What happened to the rising team that some experts called, ahem, the best in the Eastern Conference? Paxson has been a flop since the summer, falling in love with his flawed creation and failing to acquire Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant when they were available to varying degrees. And Skiles has lost the team, unable to coax effort to the point where we wonder about two things: (1) when he’ll blow up; and (2) at what point his job status becomes an issue.
The players deserve considerable blame for showing little character. Ben Wallace is a bust who cares more about his Pistons buddies than playing in Chicago. Kirk Hinrich was handed a long-term extension prematurely. Ben Gordon has been erratic as ever and is declining in reputation after rejecting a $50 million extension. When someone named Thomas Gardner looks like their best player, I have only one reaction.
Ahem. There’s no denying the Bulls have been a major pile of suckage this season, but we can also recall how they rebounded from an 0-9 start two seasons ago. While it’s not a huge stretch to wonder if Skiles has lost the locker room (and perhaps a United Center floor plan will help him find it), blasting Paxson for his failure to acquire Garnett, Gasol or Bryant is pretty harsh. At last check, no other GM in the NBA had figured out a way to successfully trade for Gasol or Bryant, and while you’d think Paxson would’ve had more to offer Minnesota than Boston’s package for Garnett, that doesn’t take into account Kevin McHale’s fervent desire to help the Celtics win another championship.