NBA legend George Karl might be the sixth winningest coach in history of the league, but his turbulent tenure with Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets didn’t exactly bear fruit.
“Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him,” Karl wrote in his 2017 memoir, Furious George. “He was the best offensive player I ever coached. He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it.”
If you think that stung, Karl didn’t end there.
“He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense,” he wrote. “He had no commitment to the hard, dirty work of stopping the other guy. My ideal—probably every coach’s ideal is when your best player is also your leader. But since Carmelo only played hard on one side of the ball, he made it plain he couldn’t lead the Nuggets, even though he said he wanted to. Coaching him meant working around his defense and compensating for his attitude.”
He added: “I want as much effort on defense—maybe more—as on offense. That was never going to happen with Melo, whose amazing ability to score with the ball made him a star but didn’t make him a winner. Which I pointed out to him. Which he didn’t like.”
Karl also took a personal dig at both Anthony and his teammate Kenyon Martin: “Kenyon and Carmelo carried two big burdens: all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man.”
I think it’s safe to say that since severing ties in 2011—Anthony demanded a trade to yet another team that would eventually want nothing to do with him as well, the New York Knicks—the two haven’t exchanged Christmas cards or pleasantries. But now that Carmelo is finally in a position to win an NBA championship after joining his BFF LeBron James in Los Angeles, he has plenty to celebrate. Just don’t expect Karl to shower the former superstar with applause.
Carmelo Anthony has accomplished a lot over the course of his career, but he’s still searching for his first NBA championship. He’s hoping that he’ll be able to check off that box next season, which is possible considering he’s joining forces with LeBron James in Los Angeles.
“I’m coming in with a championship on my mind,” Anthony told ESPN while discussing his decision to become a Laker. “I think we all know that this is the one thing that I’m missing, right? This is the one thing that it keeps me up at night, it motivates me, because I don’t have it. I want that experience.”
After catching wind of these comments, his former coach took to Twitter and let the chopper spray.
“And it kept our coaching staff up at night a decade ago when we were stressing the importance of team play and defense,” Karl tweeted.
After years of torment, Karl’s bitter ex routine is growing a bit stale. But with a decorated career that includes recognition for almost everything but a Larry O’Brien trophy, the onus falls on Carmelo to finally seal the deal with his play on the court.