Q&A: George Karl

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Saturday, April 11, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of Darnell Mayberry

Q: Did you like TV work, or was that something to just keep you busy?
A: A little bit above like. It wasn’t love. But, you know, I wanted to get back in the gym. Most of my friends knew that from the very beginning. Having a great year and then being dismissed was kind of strange. A year out (of basketball) is probably all the patience I probably have with my life.
What keeps you coming back to coaching after all you’ve seen and done and accomplished and been through?
I think the thing I love is the gym. Being in the gym is kind of my comfort zone. And now, when you’re a head coach, your control of what’s going on in the gym and building a culture and building a tradition of winning and a demand of a game of excellence played at a high level is something that I’ve had a lot of years of doing because I’ve had a lot of really good players. If I was fading in Denver and had a couple of bad years and had a couple of losing seasons I might have said, ‘Meh, maybe I’m losing the feel.’ But it’s the exact opposite. That was probably my most fun year of coaching in my career. And then to not have a job, I think everybody knew I wanted to try it at least one more time. And the things we had success with in Denver, can we recoup it? It’s not going to be the same in Sacramento. But it can be hopefully as successful as it was in Denver.
How have you had to adapt or evolve from when you first started coaching in this league to now with how the game has changed?
I think every year you have to be aware of where the game is going and how it’s changing. Come on. The game, when I got in it in the ’80s, the 3-point shot had no value. Teams were probably shooting the 3-ball less than 10 times a game. Maybe less than five times a game. And now the game is dominated by the 3-ball. And then the hand-checking that was taken off a couple of years ago, giving the freedom where from my early 80 years to probably the early 2000s you didn’t like little guards because you could hold them and grab them and post them up and abuse them and be physical with them. Now little guards are probably a necessity. Or if you’re lucky you have a fast, quick, strong little guard like Russell Westbrook.
Do you like where the game is going?
(Sighs) You know, that’s a philosophical question.
You’re pretty philosophical.
I’m usually philosophical on the bench drinking beers in the summer time. I’ve actually thought it’d be interesting if you took the 3-ball out of the game and made the D-League play without the 3-ball and see how the game would be played again. I think that’s drastic. That’s off the charts. I don’t think that’s going to happen. The game … is size as important as speed now? Is speed more important than size? Is the 3-ball more important than the 15-foot jump shot? I mean, analytics people have thrown some stats at us that you have to look at. You have to be aware of them. Sometimes I don’t think the game is as beautiful as ESPN makes it. I think the game, at times in my opinion, has plateaued a little bit. I don’t think anybody wants to say that because we live on ratings in the NBA. But I think there’s some really good basketball teams in the league, and when they play well it’s magnificent to watch them play. But I also think there’s some bad basketball going on every once in a while in the league, too.


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