Skiles the limit
By Eric Neel
Page 2 columnist

We know what you want. We know headlines and official stories aren't enough for you. We know you come to Page 2 for the down-low.

You read that Scott Skiles took the head coaching job in Chicago and you think, Man, Skiles in Chicago with all those kids -- what must that be like? What's going on behind closed doors?

The man once went heads-up with the Diesel, friend. What do you think's going on?

Scott Skiles
Scott Skiles' toughness is already rubbing off on the Bulls.
All right, all right ... details. Here's what we're hearing:

Scottie wears a wife-beater to practice with the words "My way is the highway" scribbled on the front in black permanent marker ... though we've been unable to substantiate rumors that he screams "Shut up, B--ch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!" whenever one of the players dares to ask him a question.

We've heard he favors suicide sprints as punishment for all botched drills and dropped balls. But we can't say for sure that the stories about guys having to wear 40-pound packs on their backs while running the drills in the rain and mud are actually true.

Word is, players must address him at all times as either "Sir," "Coach," or, the preferred term, "Your Eminence." Word that he also insists they genuflect and lay a delicate kiss on the hem of his sweat pants may be exaggerated, however.

Sources tell us Tyson Chandler was seen blubbering to his mommy on a cell phone in the Berto Center parking lot in the hours after Scottie arrived. But we're still checking on reports that Eddy Curry experienced some sort of back-to-the-womb regression and started listening to recordings of his mother's heartbeat on his iPod.

We're pretty certain the doors to the practice facility are locked at the exact minute workouts are scheduled to begin, leaving latecomers out in the cold. And we suspect, but can't be sure, that Scottie's also worked out a deal with the city to put one of those boots on the car tire of anyone who comes late, ensuring that the transgressor gets a walk home through the Chicago snow.

Insiders also say a lecture on toughness this week featured a video clip of Sean Connery's "Chicago Way" monologue from "The Untouchables": "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"

But no one will go on the record about whether or not Skiles acted out the Capone-with-a-baseball-bat scene for emphasis.

Intense, no-blood-no-whistle box-out and ball-scramble drills are routine now, we hear ... but we can't get a straight answer on a steel cage brought in the back door at the United Center the other day. Building staff say it's part of a traveling magic act; but we're thinking some one-man-left-standing matches, or maybe some tiger wrestling.

Scott Skiles
You'd be a little scared, too, if your coach had horns coming out of his head.
Team-building exercises are in the mix, too, we understand. Guys rooming and eating together, even when the team's at home; everybody sacrificing mp3 players, cell phones, and bits of jewelry to a bonfire in a show of sacrifice and solidarity; two teammates kidnapped, stripped, bound and gagged, and left in a western Illinois corn field to find their way home all Outward-Bound-like.

You know, that kind of stuff.

"The upcoming guest lecture series promises to be a real highlight as well. We believe Bobby Knight, Bill Parcells, and the disembodied spirit of Bear Bryant have already committed to appear.

Some people will tell you this is all a bit too intense. They'll say the only hard-knock life the young Bulls will respond to is the one Jay-Z sings about and they'll say it's only a matter of time before things go boom in Chi-town.

We say the jury's still out. We say you gotta admit, the early returns look good.

Game One of the Skiles Era: 97-87 over Milwaukee. Jamal Crawford pours in 30 and dishes eight. Guys jump all over each other at the final buzzer, looking like they might actually care.

Game Two: They take the Sixers to the buzzer in Philly before AI throws in another one of his baseline supplications while he's wearing Kirk Hinrich as a second skin. They lose by a point.

The players seem to be playing Richard Gere to Scottie's Lou Gossett, Jr., you know what we're saying?

Sure, several of them are setting up a support group -- Hi, my name is Jamal and I play for Scott Skiles -- to deal with the emotional scarring. And sure, Eddie Robinson and Kendall Gill were seen roaming the streets with suitcases in their hands like the stars of an after-school special. And sure, there are rumblings about a Menendez-brothers-style coup in the works.

But that kind of stuff's gonna happen; it's a natural part of the transition. It's just growing pains.

And we don't care what you heard -- His Eminence Scott Skiles in no way influenced, coerced, or frightened us into our opinion on this.

Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2.



Eric Neel Archive

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Neel: Words to taunt by

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Campus Tailgate Tour: Ohio State

Neel: The duel

Neel: More than money

Neel: 20 reasons to watch

Neel: Knuckles vs. kisses

Neel: C'mon, confess

Neel: Cubbyholed

Neel: East coast envy

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