On January 18, 2016, Grier made a deal. The Magic and coach Scott Skiles, another former MSU star, called and wanted to sign Appling to a 10-day contract. Grief called and gave his client the news. Appling’s response? “He actually told us he was firing us as we gave him that great news,” Grier recalled.
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Organizationally, I asked? “Yeah, organizationally, in terms of the plan,” Gordon continued. “I think (Magic front office executives) John Hammond, Jeff Weltman, those guys are amazing people — amazing people, and very talented managers as well. But I feel like they got kind of cast into the revolving door out there as well in Orlando. So many coaches — five coaches in seven years (Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel and Steve Clifford). And it was kind of a different organization after the passing of Mr. (Rich) DeVos (in September 2018) as well. It was just a lot. A lot of uncertainty, an insecure kind of feeling. But I have no doubt in my mind that John and Jeff are going to get that organization back to where it needs to be.
Paul Shirley: Behind the scene of the 2003-04 Bulls team. Shirley: That was a really poisonous locker room. I don’t want to speak too out of turn because when I was in Chicago that was also the time that I had my kidney and spleen rupture 12 days into my time with the Bulls and finished out the year with the team but spent some of that time in a hospital bed and was afraid I might die. However, I do remember that there was even like a pamphlet, like a weekly pamphlet, that would circulate in the locker room written by an anonymous sort of rabble-rouser basically saying Scott Skiles doesn’t know what he’s doing and other guys should be playing and all this sh*t. It was real bad. Eddie Robinson was on that team, and I actually really loved that guy because he just didn’t care whatpeople thought of him. He wasn’t playing because Skiles said to him if you don’t do X, it was something in warmups, then I’m benching you. Robinson was like, let’s see if he’ll do it, and then he did it.
Then-Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles raised his hand and told Stern, after a preamble of “no disrespect,” that the locker room was his “sacred space.” Based on multiple coaches’ retellings of this legendary league story, Stern dispatched the response with withering sarcasm. “Well, let’s see,” the smiling commissioner began. “On the one hand, we have eight billion dollars from our broadcast partners. And on the other hand, we have … Scott Skiles!” Stern then lit into him, telling Skiles in so many words and curses to shut up and that he didn’t want to hear any more out of him. Skiles went quiet, as did the room.
“He was neutered,” one coach relayed of Skiles. “Scott thought he was brave. And after Stern was done with him, he wasn’t brave no more.” All the coaches in the room got the message. Commissioner Stern wasn’t asking. He was telling. And woe be unto whichever clipboard clinger flouted the dictate.
When asked about the incident recently, Skiles told The Athletic, “I no longer do interviews about basketball. But whatever you are referring to is completely false. The commissioner never went at me or anyone in a harsh manner. You’ve gotten incorrect info.” Last week, Stern himself said, “No recollection at all. Not denying.” Make of that what you will.