Former NBA coach George Karl, who ranks fifth in career victories (1,175) and seventh all-time in losses (824), has a book coming out in January, which is unfortunate timing for the holiday season, but its impending release means we’re treated to the juiciest of nuggets as hype. Or should we say Nuggets?
The New York Post obtained a copy of Karl’s book, “Furious George,” which is convenient, since three current and former New York Knicks, all of whom Karl coached on the Denver Nuggets, appear to be the target of the 65-year-old’s ferocity. And Carmelo Anthony seems to take the brunt of Karl’s ire.
We can’t be certain how kind Karl was to Anthony. According to the New York Post, he called Melo “the best offensive player I ever coached,” with enough talent to also “become the best defender at his position in the NBA.” The niceties seemingly stopped there. Here’s more from Karl’s book via the Post:
“Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him. He was the best offensive player I ever coached. He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it.
“He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense. He had no commitment to the hard, dirty work of stopping the other guy. My ideal — probably every coach’s ideal — is when your best player is also your leader. But since Carmelo only played hard on one side of the ball, he made it plain he couldn’t lead the Nuggets, even though he said he wanted to. Coaching him meant working around his defense and compensating for his attitude.”
“I want as much effort on defense — maybe more — as on offense. That was never going to happen with Melo, whose amazing ability to score with the ball made him a star but didn’t make him a winner. Which I pointed out to him. Which he didn’t like.”
Much of this is not new. After Denver traded Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton and multiple picks — a deal likened to the “sweet release” of “popping a blister” in the book — Karl told NBA on TNT in February 2011, “Melo is the best offensive player I’ve ever coached, but his defensive focus, his demand of himself is what frustrated us more than anything.” To which Anthony responded, “That’s him. That’s George Karl.”
Even after six years of constantly discussing Anthony’s defensive liability and lack of team success in New York, it’s still jarring to hear this comment about the perennial All-Star from his former coach: “He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it.”
And Karl didn’t stop there, according to the Post.
He described Anthony, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith — who all played for Karl in Denver and later got together on the Knicks — as “AAU babies” like the sort of “spoiled brats you see in junior golf and junior tennis.” Karl reportedly blamed the behavior of Anthony and Martin on their absent fathers — “Kenyon and Carmelo carried two big burdens: all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man” — while simultaneously blaming Smith’s actions on an overbearing father who “urged his son to shoot the ball and keep shooting it from the very moment I put him in the game.”
Anthony lost his dad to cancer at age 2, and Martin started a foundation to help serve families without father figures. On top of that, Carmelo had the whole dad thing down pretty good this week:
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 22, 2016
And then there was this: Karl said Smith had “a huge sense of entitlement, a distracting posse, his eye always on the next contract and some really unbelievable shot selection,” according to the Post. The “posse” comment obviously raised eyebrows after Knicks president Phil Jackson’s similar remarks about Smith’s current Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James, ignited a race-fueled firestorm.
Let’s just say not everybody agrees with Karl on everything:
I had some good Denver Nuggets Teammates. That dude is old and unhappy with himself.
— ReggieEvans30 (@ReggieEvans30) December 22, 2016
Karl’s biting commentary may come as no surprise, and much of what he said in these excerpts addresses subjects that have been discussed in great detail, so you wonder if and how he will address them further throughout the book. It’s a shame, then, someone won’t be gifting it in my stocking, because what we just learned from this excerpt sure doesn’t seem worth the price of admission.
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