Scott Skiles and the consequences of ‘quitting’


Some want to characterize what Scott Skiles did in resigning as ‘quitting.’ Perhaps that is correct. But there are undeniable consequences either way.

It is the single worst word you can say in sports.

A player, a coach, a person quit. Stopped trying. Forsook his talent, his teammates and everything else and left them out to dry.

There is certainly that feeling with the sudden resignation of Scott Skiles.

The story as it has been reported in many places is that Skiles’ dissatisfaction grew from disagreements with management over personnel. Or perhaps, as Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported, Skiles felt he could no longer connect to the modern NBA player.  Perhaps it was truly a power grab and Skiles lost it and walked away because of it.

The real story will remain behind closed doors. It is clear that whatever reason Skiles had, he decided it was better to walk away than stomach the rest of his contract or wait for the team to fire him.

In other words, he quit.

Skiles’ coaching career has followed the same path really. His teams respond to his hard-driving style in the first year and then he slowly loses grip. They stop listening, he gets fed up and he leaves — whether he gets fired or he opts to leave or the team parts way.

The Magic probably recognized they would get this when they signed up.

But this time had to be different. Orlando and the Magic had a more special meaning to Skiles. Perhaps this would be different. Or perhaps the reservation he shared with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical would come true — what would happen when his presence soured and the team that he had made his name with had to part ways.

Skiles seemed to pick the way he would exit.

The way the Orlando Sentinel described it Thursday, Skiles fired the Magic.

In any case, Skiles certainly committed the cardinal sin of sports in leaving the Magic high and dry. He did something that seems very against his nature — and at the same time very much in his nature. He was somewhat stubborn to the end. He could not get things his way and so he left the situation rather than deal with it.

He could not find a reason to stick with his team and so he left.

As Mike Carman says in the latest edition of FanSided’s Heat Check, Skiles’ demeanor both in controlling his team and demanding so much for them, is probably better suited for the college game where the coach has more autocratic control. He has something to teach young teams, but maybe lacking the patience to not have control over every little detail of forming that team. He wanted to pick the pieces he would use, not have them picked for him.

That led to the break down in communication and cohesion that perhaps he felt like he could not continue on with.

In reality, Skiles is likely done as a head coach. The stain of resigning after one year and the rumors of his push to go around management to get his way will make plenty of people hesitant to hire him again.

Maybe Skiles deserves some benefit of the doubt. Maybe he should get some credit for stepping aside instead of stomaching through something he did not want to be a part of. Maybe that will be best for the Magic in the long run.

Maybe, as Skiles said in his statement, we should take it as his decision and his decision alone that he is not the best coach for this team anymore. And leave it at that.

The narrative is going to persist until someone clears the air on the record.

Skiles never could outrun his own narrative and like it has his other three coaching stops, it ended poorly. Maybe not the way everyone thought it would. But it ended the same — with Skiles burned out, tired of his team, clashing with management and eventually walking away in one form or another.

Orlando did not even get the benefit of the skill the team supposedly hired him for — getting the team to the Playoffs.

Saying Skiles “quit” still feels a little harsh. But in reality that is what he did. And that has plenty of people observing this franchise asking, “How did the team not see this coming?”

And, perhaps even more alarmingly, what is wrong with this team to make a coach leave all that money on the table?

That might be the worst part of it. As much as Skiles wanted to downplay the negative effects of this resignation, that is what will be left.

When a teammate quits, someone has to pick up the slack. The team moves on even in someone’s absence. Those are the pieces — and perhaps the urgency — the Magic are picking up now.