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Ball Don't Lie

George Karl once concocted a fake trade rumor for fun

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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George Karl informs Carmelo Anthony he has been traded to Mars (Brian Bahr/ Getty).

The NBA trade deadline is only 10 days away, and that means we're now in a period of rampant hearsay and rumor-mongering. As various reports surface, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. With so many rumors flying, who knows which talks are real, how far along they are, and whether or not these deals are likely to go through?

It can be a tough time for coaches, too, particularly as they try to figure out which players will be at their disposal for the the stretch run. They need to let off some steam in any way they can. And that's why, years ago, longtime NBA head coach George Karl decided to make up a trade rumor to see if he could get it into the papers. From Jodie Valade for The Cleveland Plain-Dealer (via SLAM):

Karl said he tries to avoid media in the days before the trade deadline because "we tell fibs and lies." However, he has helped to fan the flame. He admitted he once had a contest with coaching pals to see who could get an outlandish rumor into the newspaper first.

"We make up some trade that never was proposed in 100 years and suddenly it's on ESPN," he said, smiling.

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Karl said he's no longer in the business of pulling pranks, and had no trades in the works that he wanted to share. He swears he hasn't spread any trade rumors in "7-8 years," he said.

Karl began his tenure with the Nuggets in 2005, so, if his timing is correct, this rumor likely would have been spread during his first season with the team. A quick look at the roster suggests that the only meaningful trades would have involved Carmelo Anthony (who never would have been traded at that point in his career), Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, or Kenyon Martin. I don't want to guess at the specifics of the rumor, but if it included any other player — like, say, Greg Buckner — then I can only guess that ESPN was really hurting for content that day.

I don't know which other coaches were involved, but I hope they informed their players of the joke ahead of time. As Karl notes earlier in the Plain-Dealer article, he feels for players around this time of the season because they don't know what the future will bring them. Spreading a fake rumor will only make their lives tougher, because they'll have to contend with new speculation from the media and fans. Why force that experience on anyone, let alone a group of young men you're being paid to leave?

Oh, and another thing: Right before Karl took the Nuggets job, he was employed by ESPN as a color commentator on their NBA broadcasts. Perhaps he wanted to get back at a producer he didn't like, or just prank some old pals.

Whatever the case, we now know that coaches are capable of taking the silly season of trades less seriously than we may have imagined. Unfortunately for them, in 2013 it is virtually impossible to concoct a trade rumor that hasn't already been proposed in some media outlet. Reality is now much stranger than fiction.

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