Behind closed doors, George Karl probably calls successful Black people “uppity.”
This hypothesis is due to the former coach’s past and a recent ill-advised and unnecessary tweet directed at one of his former players, DeMarcus Cousins. In a recent interview with ESPN, Cousins reflected on his turbulent times with the Sacramento Kings, and how he believes that a franchise with a long history of wasting the talents of countless players and coaches over decades, didn’t do anything for him.
This is where the “uppity” thing comes into play because that’s the term that some white people like to use when describing a Black person that’s gotten “too big for their britches.” In other words, it’s coded language for a Black person that sees themselves as something more than the white gaze believes they should be, which can be infuriating.
Cousins: “What did Sac do for me? Besides say my name [draft day]. I did more for them than they did for me. That’s just being honest. Just being 100% honest. I had two owners, three GMs, seven coaches in seven years. I was there seven years. I had three GMs, two owners and seven coaches. Not much more needs to be said.”
Karl: “Paid you approx $50M and gave you the opportunity to play professional basketball for a living.”
In the spirit of fact-checking, the Kings paid Cousins a little over $56 million during his time in Sacramento, according to Spotrac.com. But even still, it’s not like it was some donation to an at-risk youth, it was the contract that a franchise agreed to pay a player of Cousins’ talents, as he was one of the most dominant big men of his era. Karl doesn’t care about that though, because to him, a high school All-American that was the fifth overall pick out of Kentucky that would become a four-time All-Star and make All-NBA twice, should be thankful that the Kings “allowed” him to make a living as if every team in the league wouldn’t have signed him to a multimillion-dollar deal.
But, this isn’t about a negotiated NBA contract or a long-standing beef between a player and a coach that have never gotten along. It’s about Karl’s love for punching down on Black men in the NBA.
Here’s a link from the old days of ESPN.com when legendary NBA reporter David Aldridge wrote a column about how he had to check Karl for his comments about Black coaches. It’s from 20 years ago — when Cousins wasn’t even a teenager yet.
“Doc (Rivers) does a great job — and now there’s gonna be four or five more anointments of the young Afro-American coach,” Karl told Esquire magazine in the April 2002 edition. “Which is fine — because I think they have been screwed, deep down inside. They have been screwed. But I have a great (white) assistant coach that can’t even get an interview. So I get pissed off.”
The title of Aldridge’s column was “Why George Karl’s comments were dumb.” As you can see, some things never change. Even back then, Karl was pissed that the white guy that coached next to him couldn’t get a shot because all these “uppity” Black guys that probably played in the league were going to get opportunities before his guy because some “uppity” Black coach was having success.
Are you starting to see how toxic the mentality of people like Karl can be, yet?
Back in 2016, excerpts of a book that Karl was getting ready to publish started being released. One of the trigger points were Karl’s comments about Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith, as he used coded language to discuss the “posses” that came along with them, and what he felt was holding them back as men and players.
“Kenyon and Carmelo carried two big burdens — all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man,” he wrote. It’s always funny how white men are viewed as triumphant for overcoming not having a father in the home, but Black men get depicted as lacking masculinity.
Oh, and the name of the book was also a shot at Karl’s former Black players, as it was titled “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection.”
Every few years, Karl does something that reminds us of how terrible he is. But, like clockwork, people forget over time or grant him some eternal blanket of grace because he and his family have overcome cancer. And that’s not to say that Karl and his family weren’t heroic in a battle against a disease that’s had a disheartening effect on almost everyone at this point. It’s to say that just because something bad has happened to you, it doesn’t permit you to be a jerk. Because when that happens, all it does is make us forget how great of coach George Karl was because we keep being reminded of how shallow he is. Sounds like he needs a father figure in his life.