George Karl has received considerable backlash in recent weeks for the shots he took at former players in his new book, “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection,” but Doug Gottlieb can’t help but wonder a true devil’s advocate question:
Is anything Karl said untrue?
“Well, it’s a good point,” The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Here’s the thing. The criticisms that he has of Carmelo, of J.R. Smith, of Kenyon Martin back then, I would say he made himself pretty well clear in those days that’s how he felt. I think it’s more the timing of it and the feeling that (he’s out of the NBA), he coached these guys a long time ago, and he should not have gone back in on guys who maybe evolved in their careers, evolved in their lives. I think all those guys he talked about have, there’s no question. I don’t have the exact wording in front of me, but I would just say they are not new criticisms to that team at that time. I had those same conversions with Chauncey Billups when he got to Denver, when he was traded there, (about) the mindset of the group, the attitude of the group. So he’s not the first one to ever say it about that era of the Nuggets. I think it just gets back to ‘Get over it, George, and sort of fade away with a little more honor.’”
Karl, to be fair, admitted that he struggled to relate to some of his players because he was from the suburbs, came from a two-parent home, attended college and had role models such as Dean Smith in his life. Gottlieb thought Karl gave readers an honest look at an old-school coach struggling to relate to a new generation from a different background.
So, if Karl took some accountability, why are people so angry?
“I think it’s because of who’s telling this, who’s saying this,” Wojnarowski said. “Part of the reason I think those guys took it so personally is the criticisms George has of players, and of these players, whether it’s selfishness, just chasing money, however you want to frame it – these are all things George has been guilty of. George was incredibly difficult to work with. He was uncoachable as a coach. You talk to the general managers, many of the GMs he had, he got fired in Denver after a season in which he was the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Now they lost in the first round and they felt like they underachieved, but that’s not exactly why Denver fired him. They fired him because they couldn’t live with him day in and day out and he was unmanageable.
“So I think that’s what hit with Carmelo, with Kenyon Martin, with J.R. Smith and others,” Wojnarowski continued. “The things that he was critical of them about, George is guilty of many of the same things within his own profession.”
Let’s not forget that Karl wasn’t the most gracious in-between-jobs coach that the league has seen. Before arriving in Sacramento, Karl campaigned for jobs on Twitter – before coaches were even fired.
“That’s about the worst thing you can do as a coach – is to try to get somebody else’s job,” Wojnarowski said. “Well, George was always doing that, especially in his later years when he was more desperate. I think that’s why all of this bothers people so much more because of how George has carried himself.”