Originally created 11/29/03

Chicago Bulls hire Scott Skiles as coach



CHICAGO -- Scott Skiles will bring his gritty, feisty, no-nonsense reputation to the Chicago Bulls, who were expected to show dramatic improvement this season but are off to a 4-12 start.

Skiles, a former player and coach of the Phoenix Suns, was hired to replace the fired Bill Cartwright as coach of the struggling Bulls.

In a statement Friday, Bulls general manager John Paxson said the move "signals a new direction for this organization."

Skiles, who held his first practice with the Bulls on Friday, called the job "a challenge that I look forward to and I am eager to get at it."

Skiles, 39, had a 116-79 record as coach of the Suns from 1999-02, and was 5-8 in the playoffs. His in-the-face style reportedly created friction with some of his players, most notably Jason Kidd, before he quit in February 2002. He has not coached since.

Skiles was considered for the Bulls' job in 1998, when he was an assistant in Phoenix and the Bulls were looking for a replacement for Phil Jackson. But then-general manager Jerry Krause hired Tim Floyd, starting a downward spiral for a team that dominated the 1990s behind Michael Jordan by winning six NBA titles.

The Bulls won 30 games last season under Cartwright, only six fewer than their total in the previous two seasons combined. But their hope entering a new season quickly evaporated.

Prep-to-pro projects Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler were expected to build on the progress they made at the end of last season, and Scottie Pippen's return was supposed to add veteran leadership.

Instead, the Bulls lost three of their first four games by an average of 27 points, including back-to-back 30-point blowouts. Then came their annual early season five-game road trip to the West. After they lost their first three, Paxson fired Cartwright, his former teammate.

Pete Myers served two games as interim coach, during which the Bulls stretched their losing streak to seven games.

The Bulls have struggled offensively and been lax defensively. Curry has often looked lost and Chandler has been bothered by a sore back.

Jamal Crawford and Jalen Rose, the center of trade rumors, were unhappy when they were benched by Cartwright in an attempt to shake the team up.

Skiles is not afraid to confront. As a 6-foot-1 guard, he was known as a gritty competitor who wouldn't back down against larger players.

He played for Milwaukee, Indiana, Orlando, Washington and Philadelphia during a gritty 10-year NBA career. He still holds the NBA record for assists in a game with 30 for Orlando against Denver on Dec. 30, 1990. He averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 assists.