Why In The World Did George Karl Take Shots At Damian Lillard?
George Karl is getting ready to release his new book, Furious George, and as we told you recently, the book features the former NBA head coach taking a series of shots at his former players Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin. And while plenty of people have argued that it was a dumb idea for Karl to do that, at the very least he did coach those guys so he’s entitled to have an opinion about them. But Karl never coached Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard during his time in the NBA—so why is he promoting his book by taking shots at him, too?
During a recent interview with New York Magazine, Karl was asked about the Trail Blazers’ struggles so far this season. And for whatever reason, he didn’t pull any punches when discussing the team, and specifically, Lillard, who Karl believes is the source of the problem for the Blazers. Karl thinks Lillard’s off-the-court pursuits, like his music and his deal with adidas, have made it difficult for him to devote all of his energy towards basketball.
“I was watching the Portland Trail Blazers play, and I was trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with this team?” Karl said. “My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention.”
That was the conclusion that he came to?
If Karl was still serving as an ESPN analyst and offering up his opinion on the Blazers in that capacity, it would be one thing. But blindly casting a shadow over Lillard based solely on having watching the Blazers play a few times this season? That seems irresponsible, and it also seems like Karl is just trolling us all for the sake of selling some books. Additionally, it feels particularly strange for Karl to say what he said because Lillard’s head coach in Portland, Terry Stotts, spent a significant amount of time working under Karl at the start of his coaching career. So what gives?
Fortunately, Stotts spoke up on Lillard’s behalf almost immediately after catching wind of what Karl said about his star player. He credited Karl with helping him get his coaching career off the ground, but he told him that he “needs to stay in his own lane” and not concern himself with Lillard or the Blazers.
“He doesn’t know Damian Lillard,” he said. “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 can’t understand—I can’t tolerate.”
Karl is earning himself and his book plenty of publicity right now. But at what cost? If he ever wants to be associated with the NBA again, he should probably stop talking about things he has no business talking about. Otherwise, he’s going to have a tough time getting back into the good graces of those working in the league.