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Sunday, February 8, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NBA

24 seconds with Scott Skiles

Coaching in the NBA seems like a revolving door, with 17 coaches being replaced in the past year. New Jersey coach Byron Scott was fired despite having a winning team. The Chicago Bulls released Bill Cartwright and hired Scott Skiles in November. Skiles, a former NBA player, hadn't coached since leading the Phoenix Suns to two playoff appearances and a 116-79 record from 1999-2001.

Seattle Times: Where have you been hiding out?

Scott Skiles: I've been spending time with my family. It was the first time since I was 5 years old that I was without basketball.

ST: Why come back now?

SS: I'm not that competitive. People always think I am, but I'm only competitive in basketball. I continued to watch the league and some tapes and kept up with it, and really, it's timing. I'm a longtime Bulls fan, and I had the opportunity to work with John (Paxson, Bulls general manager). I didn't feel like my clock was ticking and I need to get back in. If the timing was right, I would.

ST: And you're accustomed to this situation, popping up in midseason, like you did in Phoenix and for the PAOK basketball team in Greece?

SS: Yes. I took over teams in Europe and Phoenix, but I already knew all the players (because I worked as an assistant). This was totally different. I came in naked. We had to go over things like where to park in the lot — don't park in the handicapped spot — don't forget your practice shorts. Things like that. There are a lot of high-maintenance guys in the league.

ST: Were you one?

SS: No.

ST: What do you make of all the coaching changes?

SS: I think a couple of things. If a coach is a good basketball coach and working hard in and out and gets fired, there's something wrong with the system. But to say there's a problem — I can't say it's a terrible league. It's hard to come up with a word for it. With (Atlanta coach) Terry Stotts being the longest tenure in the (Eastern Conference), it's no knock on Terry, but that's odd.

ST: What about your stability? Are you concerned?

SS: Well, it doesn't bode well for the job I have. But it's one of those things. This is pro sports: You either win or not.

ST: And you'll still have your assist record. Are you surprised no one has recorded more than 30 assists in a game like you did in December 1990 as a member of the Orlando Magic?

SS: Not with the way guys shoot and score today! The game is totally different now.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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