This was the real shocker among coaches firings

Paul Silas deserved better than to be fired by the New Orleans Hornets for not beating the Philadelphia 76ers.

Given the tenor of the times, he deserved to be fired for something better. You know, punching a plainclothes police horse. Drinking up Bourbon Street with a field trip from Southern Mississippi. Being persistently and knowingly nice to someone from Charlotte.

But to be for cause, especially one this flimsy? Why, it's an insult to a fine coach and even finer man.

At least that's what we hear. After last week, who knows anything any more?

You see, after the Larry Eustachy send-up and the Mike Price bum's rush, even the simplest dismissal becomes suspect, and when that coach wins 57 percent of his games ... well, it makes a fella wonder, that's all.

Then again, Silas never quite got it anyway. In a business that all but screamed out for silly behavior, starting with bald-faced lies told just for practice and ending with Destiny ordering up that sixth apple brown betty to go, he kept using outmoded concepts like candor, dignity and trust.

Why, he even thanked the Hornets owners, Ray Wooldridge and George Shinn, for the opportunity he received. "They have the right to make their own decisions," he said, as opposed to reading a statement without accepting questions, or worse, having a statement released so he wouldn't have to leave his rec room.

God, you just want to slap the man.

Fact is, kids, we have a standard to uphold, and Paul Silas walking on his own two feet isn't it. We want the Washington Wizards, where Michael Jordan has gone from hero to vindictive overlord to hear some employees tell it. We want the earnest (if well-timed) confession of a problem.

Damn it, we want the vice squad.

But Paul Silas isn't delivering, even in a town that sleeps only a few hours a night. With all those temptations, all those possibilities to look drunk, impulsive, unprepared, even crazy, Paul Silas gets fired for not getting his team to the Eastern Conference final.

At least that's what we think. There is no suggestion, or even a hint or scintilla of a hint, that Silas is anything but what he has purported himself to be over 40 years in the NBA. Now he's either incredibly gifted at hiding his kinkier side, or he doesn't have one. He's just a guy who's good at his job but isn't effervescent enough to impress the people for whom he works.

After all, the Hornets didn't sell out every game. They just played hard, consistently and as well as their roster would allow.

God, no wonder they smoked him. He's normal.

Could he be linked to the Jordan-to-Chicago rumors? Unlikely. The Jordan-to-Charlotte rumors? Maybe, but don't bet on it.

In fact, there aren't any rumors about Paul Silas. There never are. He is exactly the kind of guy who gets hired, reads what a good hire his new bosses have made, makes his team better, and then the guys who hired him decide that the job has outgrown him -- the prerogatives of the underqualified rich, call it.

But this isn't about your duty to weep for Paul Silas, or to e-mail with a list of complaints about why he isn't as good as Red Auerbach.

This is about Silas' failure to step up and go out in a shower of shame and stupidity -- to be so stunningly out of fashion on one of the biggest, if certainly not best, days of his life. Why, he didn't even dye his hair blond like Bill (Wish They All Could be California Girls) Parcells.

He kept showing up until they told him to stop, and forgot to earn his firing. Now where's the fun in that?

See, that's the shame -- that Paul Silas couldn't go out with compromised morals, or a defective sense of propriety. This is the kind of unspectacular failure that can work against a man after awhile.

So we hold out hope that Silas did something we can talk about for a few days while tsk-tsking and taking the high moral ground and wondering what in God's name he could have been thinking.

Because this "Sorry, you're fired," "Thanks anyway. See ya," ... well, it just isn't resonating with the audience. We want a reason to laugh, to cry, to invoke Jan van Breda Kolff.

Well, there's still time. Maybe he'll appear on TV in the next couple of days without wearing pants. It will at least show that he's trying to stay current.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com