Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Mike Bianchi: Skiles quitting on Magic is pathetic lowpoint in franchise history

Shaquille O'Neal left forlorn fans in Orlando wondering "why" when he bailed on the Magic in 1996, and, now, 20 years later, Shaq's former teammate — Scott Skiles — has left fans feeling with the same deserted, desolate feeling.

"I can't remember (anything like) this happening," embattled Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said Thursday when I asked him if he could ever recall an NBA coach willingly resigning and leaving millions of dollars on the table.

This was one of the darkest days in Magic history. This wasn't just any coach who quit on the franchise after just one season as coach; this was Scotty Skiles — one of the most beloved former players in franchise history.

The tone in Magic CEO Alex Martins' voice last Thursday told the story — utter disbelief and sadness. Even though the Magic insist Hennigan is the man who made the decision to hire Skiles a year ago, everybody knows he was Martins' man. Skiles was the Magic's popular and pugnacious point guard two decades ago when Martins was the team's chief publicist.

"I'm disappointed more than anything," a somber Martins said. "Scott was a friend first and foremost and we've had a long history together. . . . When anybody quits, you're blindsided."

Martins said he received the resignation phone call from Skiles Wednesday and even called him back Thursday morning to try to get him to change his mind.

Skiles said his decision was final.

He quit on the Magic just like he quit on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Doesn't he owe the fans in Orlando more than just a canned quote?

Martins tried to put a positive spin on the Magic's "upward" future, but right now even the most astute PR expert can't put a happy face on what happened Thursday when Skiles released a prepared statement that read: "After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team. Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position."

Translation: Scott Skiles fired the Orlando Magic.

This just doesn't happen in professional sports. Teams fire coaches all the time, but coaches never quit on teams. It's almost unprecedented for a pro coach with three years remaining on his contract to leave $12 million on the table to voluntarily resign. Obviously, there's more to this than what's being made public; there always is.

Skiles likely will never say anything, considering the Magic most likely bought his silence by admitting they had reached a "separation agreement" with their former coach. A separation agreement, by most accounts, can be defined thusly: "Here's a bunch of money, now shut up!"

No matter how or why this happened, this is absolutely awful for the Magic. They are four years and two coaches into a cumbersome rebuild that doesn't appear to be working. Now there is this question: How are they going to convince big-name free agents to come when they can't even convince their coach to stay?

Last May, Skiles said, "This is my home. . . I feel comfortable here. . . This is the right place at the right time."

This May, he is essentially saying, "I am the wrong man at the wrong time."

The scariest part of all for Magic fans is the distinct possibility that it doesn't really matter who the Magic hire as their new coach.

By quitting on his team, isn't Scott Skiles telling everyone that what the Magic really needs is new players? —Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

Comments
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Racing schedules for 2018-19 parimutuel seasons released

OLDSMAR — Eight is not enough at Tampa Bay Downs, at least when the thoroughbred racing facility on Race Track Road opens its 93rd season July 1.The final card of what will be the Downs' sixth annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing will featu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blueline. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by Steve (Yze...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I'm going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years....
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

ST. PETERSBURG — Former Lakewood High coach Brian Bruch started each season with the same spiel. He cautioned his players about not becoming obsessed with a professional football career, reciting statistics to emphasize the difficult the odds o...
Updated: 6 hours ago