What happened to new Bucks coach Scott Skiles and the Bulls last season? Not an easy question to answer. Chicago Trib writers such as Sam Smith, Jordan’s biographer, are still writing things like “we’ll never know for sure.”
Way back in October, Smith had written that the Bulls seemed a “joyless” team, “bothered by some unseen, heavy burden.”
After Smith published that, Skiles called him and, instead of chewing him out for the downer article, agreed with it. Skiles couldn’t put his finger on it. He sensed fear, media pressure, uncertainty about contracts, signed and unsigned.
Turns out forward Luol Deng and Ben Gordon did not sign the five-year $50-plus million deals they were offered, opting to wait a couple of years and go for Michael Redd-type contracts in unrestricted free agency. Kirk Hinrich did sign his. Suddenly some Baby Bulls were more equal than others. And nearly all of their names had surfaced in the Kobe trade talk before the season, causing a chill in the Bull pen.
Smith again, after Skiles was fired last Christmas eve. He wrote that Skiles became “disenchanted” with his team, dubbing it “the Larry Brown Syndrome” … “something of the opposite of the Stockholm Syndrome when the captives became enamored with their captors. In the Brown Syndrome, the coach rejects his captives and changes jobs.”
And here comes Kelly Dwyer for Yahoo Sports, picking up the Larry Brown Syndrome talk and predicting Skiles will be in Milwaukee four or five years before “flaming out and moving on” like he did in Phoenix and Chicago. Citing caustic public comments about players, Dwyer writes that even a “graying leopard can’t change his spots.”
I think Smith and Dwyer are being a little overdramatic here. It’s a bit too early in Skiles’ career to tag him with the Larry Brown Syndrome (Milwaukee is only his third job) or to bring leopards into the discussion. Dwyer gets a Bob Boozer Jinx whistle for use of a hopelessly tired cliche.
Besides, doesn’t four or five years sound great for Bucks fans? That’s how long George Karl lasted before he too rejected the team he had by trading it. Skiles will be our fifth coach in seven seasons. This current Bucks roster would disenchant any coach in less than than a year. It already has.
By the time Skiles gets a team he can live with and has it playing tight defense and team offense, we should be into 2010 or 2011. Let’s just win some basketball games in Milwaukee. And on the road, too. Then, and maybe then, we can begin to worry about the existential urges of Scott Skiles and the so-called Larry Brown Syndrome — as smart as all that sounds in a column on the sports pages.