God bless George Karl, whose incendiary book and accelerant-spraying press tour have given the NBA community something to unite against this holiday season, and given us blogs some sweet, sweet content during these dark days on the sports calendar. As if blaming Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin for not having fathers wasn’t enough, now Karl is just basically yelling out names of players he thinks are problems, and alienating one of his formerly closest colleagues.
In an interview with New York magazine, Karl, almost completely unprompted, decided to register his complaints about Portland PG Damian Lillard.
I was watching the Portland Trail Blazers play, and I was trying to figure out, What the hell is wrong with this team? My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention.
What makes you think that?
Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?
Karl and Stotts go back a long way, back to when Stotts played for Karl in the Continental Basketball Association. When Stotts entered coaching, Karl hired him for his staff with the CBA’s Albany team, and then with Seattle and Milwaukee in the NBA.
But Stotts’s loyalties here seem clear, and they’re with Lillard.
“As you know, I owe a lot to George. I got my start in coaching with George. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. He’s a successful coach. That being said, if he wants to diminish his chances for the Hall of Fame, if he wants to undermine his chances of being a head coach again in this league, if he wants to settle old scores with GMs or players or whoever else, that’s his prerogative. But when it comes to my team and my players, he needs to stay in his own lane.
“He doesn’t know Damian Lillard. He doesn’t know how coachable he is. He doesn’t know what a great teammate he is. He doesn’t know how much Damian cares about winning, and how important he is to this franchise. I thought his comments, however well-intended they may have been—which I don’t understand—I can’t tolerate.”
Stotts said he won’t be reaching out to Karl, and “I don’t plan on reading the book.”
The thing here is, everyone loves tell-all books, and no one likes the vast majority of books by old athletes and coaches because they refuse to spill the good stuff. They’re boring. Karl’s book, and his interviews surrounding its release, are certainly not boring. Sure, maybe this brutal honesty is why he’s made so many enemies over his time in basketball, and why he appears to be on a mission to estrange himself from those he hasn’t yet offended. But it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the alternative.