Let me start by openly admitting that I am a Chicago Bulls fan. I have been my entire life, and I have Michael Jordan to thank for that. I have stayed a Bulls fan through the few years they were terrible and the years that followed Jordan retiring again. I had high hopes for this season, as did every other Bulls fan, and so far I am beyond disappointed.
But my issue is not necessarily with their record or even necessarily with the Bulls themselves. There is something I just don’t understand about the world of professional sports. Why is it when a team of highly paid players begins their season as terribly as the Bulls did this year, 7-13, that the coach gets fired?Scott Skiles led the Bulls to three straight 40-plus win seasons, led them to three straight playoff appearances, and has twice been named coach of the month. Yes, the Bulls started the season slow. But is that really his fault? He had the same group of guys in Ben Gordon, Loul Deng and Kirk Hinrich last year and started off the same way. He ended up with 49 wins last year.
Is it his fault that management didn’t pull the trigger on a trade that would have brought arguably the best player in the game today to his team? No, it is not. Is it his fault that the style of basketball he coached worked so well when his starting point guard did his job and failed miserably when Hinrich couldn’t hit the basket to save his starting job? Not at all.
The point is that team management of the Bulls and many other owners in all of the professional sports (see George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees and Al Davis who owns the Oakland Raiders), are so quick to blame the coach for the results of a team that the coach did not put together.
Skiles is not to blame for the team’s inconsistency. It is not his fault that the management left a team intact that has matured together over the years but all of a sudden forgot how to play inspired team basketball.
In all professional sports, owners and team managers refuse to blame themselves for the team they have paid for. Instead they fire coaches who have done their job. Scott Skiles was given a young, inexperienced group of kids three years ago and has taken them to the playoffs each of those years. If he has one off season, does he deserve to be fired? I don’t believe so.
Maybe owners and managers should take responsibility for their own actions instead of deflecting blame onto the coaches.