There might be slim consolation for Charles Oakley’s former employers in Toronto and New York knowing that he’s never held his tongue where the Bulls are concerned. From the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson :
Charles Oakley is on the phone”and on a roll.
“You have to get [Chris] Duhon out of the starting lineup,” the NBA’s former King of Comedy said. “[Kirk] Hinrich should be the point guard and Ben [Gordon] should play the [shooting] guard. So [Gordon] struggles some on defense. Who in this league plays defense? Nobody. You knew what you had in Gordon when you drafted him. He’s a scorer. Let him play.”
Oakley’s call-’em-like-he-sees-’em 2001-02 season with Chicago all but ran Tim Floyd out of town. It included a memorable rebuke of the overmatched coach after a franchise-record loss in Minnesota that prompted then-general manager Jerry Krause to levy a Bulls-record $50,000 fine on Oakley.
“And now look what’s happening,” Oakley said, stifling a laugh. “They’re letting the big guys (Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler) play through their mistakes. That’s what I always said. But a lot of things I said were ignored.”
When Oakley (above) answered the phone on a sparkling Thursday morning in Phoenix, where he was to “play golf, work out and relax,” he sounded sleepy, groggy, tired.
That soon changed.
“You have to give Scott Skiles and John Paxson credit,” Oakley said. “I never dealt with Skiles on a personal basis, but I played against him. He was feisty. That’s what you need in a coach. You need to be tough.
“That’s what’s wrong with the league. You have to have separation between the coach and players. When you lose, the coach gets fired. When you win, the players get credit. The league is backward.
“You have to listen to the coaches, unless they don’t know what they’re talking about. Like when Floyd took the whole team out (five-man substitution) in Minnesota. He had no strategy. That’s because he’s a bad coach.”
Reminded Floyd recently landed on his feet at USC, Oakley harrumphed.
“I know it wasn’t the NBA,” he said. “Good luck [to USC]. They’ll find out soon. Floyd should be coaching Little League.”