The most amazing thing about the revelations from and backlash to George Karl’s upcoming book, “Furious George,” is that he wants to coach in the NBA again. He claims Carmelo Anthony is the best offensive player he’s ever coached, but he still wrote that his former player is a “user” and ball hog. He dropped the dreaded P-word in regard to J.R. Smith, and he also claimed the NBA has a huge steroid problem. The only people who sort of got it easy in his book were Sacramento Kings players and executives, but that’s only because he signed a hush-hush deal as part of his termination earlier this year.
Karl admitted to the Daily Intelligencer’s David Marchese that he knew his book would hurt his chances of coaching again, but he also felt the need to “tell the truth about what goes on” because he thinks there is “too much spin going on with the game.” Included in that spin, he thinks it’s mighty suspicious that the NBA has become so valuable with the help of key franchises.
Probably the most controversial idea you put forward in your book is that the league uses the refs to influence the outcome of games. But you really only insinuate. So let me ask you: Do you believe that the NBA sometimes attempts to determine which teams win and which teams lose?
That’s my interpretation. I’m a conspiracist about this. 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.
The examples you use are when your Seattle Supersonics had officiating calls go against them in the playoffs in ’93 against the Phoenix Suns and then again in the ’01 playoffs when your Milwaukee Bucks were playing the Philadelphia 76ers. In both cases you say that the league wanted the MVPs — Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson — in the finals. This isn’t just retrospective sour grapes on your part?
Look, when I got into the early ’80s, the NBA was a struggling business. You could buy a franchise for 10 or 12 million dollars. David Stern, with the help of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan, did an incredible job of turning the league into a big-money venture. I have trouble recognizing that the NBA is primarily a business and not a sport. That’s probably going to be my ultimate downfall with the league. (Via the Daily Intelligencer)
Despite flat out admitting that he’s a conspiracy theorist, as well as adding that the NBA swept Tim Donaghy’s book “under the rug pretty damn well,” Karl dialed back his greatest accusation, perhaps because of the realization that just about every bridge is blazing.
So I’m still not totally clear on your answer to my question. Does the league try to manipulate outcomes via the referees?
There are days I think it does. But deep down in my heart I have to believe it doesn’t.
There you have it: George Karl definitely believes that NBA refs influence some games for bigger teams, but he sort of hopes they don’t. Hopefully he’ll find better luck in his next coaching gig. Perhaps he should give Ice Cube a call.