George Karl doesn’t seem to be feeling the holiday spirit this year.
We often hear people talk about how professional athletes need to think before they press “send”. George Karl needed to think before he wrote an entire book.
In his new memoir, Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs and Poor Shot Selection, Karl calls out just about everyone and everything he’s encountered throughout his lengthy career. Among other things, Karl criticizes former players, officiating, and the prospect of the league favoring certain teams over others.
George Karl has never been the type to sugarcoat how he feels. His struggles to connect with players in the locker room have been documented for years, and they came to a head last season when he was driven out of Sacramento by DeMarcus Cousins. That’s not to say this made Karl a bad coach, but he seems to be misguided on where exactly the “diva” trait was coming from throughout his coaching career. George Karl is the epitome of a “diva” coach. He’s Gregg Popovich without the people skills. He won a lot of games, but he also burned a lot of bridges and if we’re being honest, there’s a reason why he never won an NBA title in his 40 years of coaching.
Furious George is an accurate nickname for Karl, but it isn’t one he should be proud of. Anger is a good trait in an NBA coach in certain dosages. Hate is not. Karl’s fury seems to stem more from the latter. More so, Karl fails to acknowledge his own potential shortcomings and instead concludes that those around him were insufficient because of theirs. For example, he chalks up Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony’s behavior as a byproduct of “all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man.” Karl couldn’t be more out of touch with that statement.
First of all, as an NBA head coach, shouldn’t you be at least attempting to fill that role to a degree? A common thread between all great coaches is that they can yell your ear off on the court but somehow manage to treat you like family off it. That doesn’t always mean love, and in Karl’s case, tough love could have worked just fine. Instead, he uses his players’ tough upbringings as a scapegoat for his own failure to connect with them on a personal level. It’s eerily similar to the problems Chip Kelly had relating to his players in Philadelphia. The coach thinks they are the mastermind, and they adopt a “my way or the highway” philosophy. That might work in college, but not in the pros. It especially doesn’t work when you’re too ignorant to properly connect with your players.
Perhaps even more concerning than Karl’s assessment of his former players is his comments about officiating and NBA conspiracies. For starters, Karl says that he believes PEDs are running rampant through the league.
“I’m talking about performance-enhancing drugs–like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older–yet thinner and fitter?” Karl said. “How are they recovering from injuries so fast? Why the hell are they going to Germany in the off-season? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut.”
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were coming from an anonymous source, but this is one of the winningest coaches in NBA history claiming that players are going to Europe in the offseason to take performance enhancing drugs. Karl needs to understand that you can’t just wave around accusations like this when you’re in the position he is. Not only does he fail to mention any names, he doesn’t provide us with any sort of credible sources that this is happening.
In addition to his PED theory, Karl also says that he is suspicious of the league rigging the outcome of games. In an interview for New York Magazine, Karl says “the NBA is a multi-billion-dollar business and has a financial interest in certain teams and players doing well. Do I know the league tries anything funny? No. But things are suspicious.” This kind of reckless accusation swinging is dangerous these days. Now, it becomes a story. People talk about it.
Much of Karl’s book is just him throwing rocks at the rumor mill, churning up old conspiracy theories and giving them new life. That’s what happens when someone who has been in the league for 40 years says these kinds of things. Even a simple accusation has huge implications, and Karl is pouring gas on the fire. Karl might be a good man, but his book is built off of wild accusations, baseless criticism and bridge burning. At the end of his interview with New York Magazine, Karl is asked who he believes is the most overrated player in the league. In response, he said “I’m not going there. I would still like to coach again.” Well George, I’m afraid that is something you should’ve thought about before ripping apart the entire league. Hindsight is 20/20, huh?