Now that the J.R. Smith Fiasco story has been completed for the time being, I am going to move on to the George Karl Fiasco story. Of course, I am always pointing out specific mistakes Karl has made in specific games. But in subsequent parts of the story, I will show why Karl should not have been hired as the Coach of the Nuggets, and I will go over in close detail the reasons why Karl is, at best, a slightly below average coach and, at worst, a very below average coach.
Today I will start the story by going over an extremely important subject that you must understand and always keep in mind if you want to know why and how Karl falls short. This is the root cause of most of Karl’s actual mistakes in actual games.
The most important thing to keep in mind about George Karl is that to him, abstract things such as philosophy and honor are more important than concrete things such as whether someone can bury a 3-point shot and whether the shooting guard out on the floor can successfully guard the opposing shooting guard. As a result, Karl has a bad relationship with the whole concept of talented, professional players. In his philosophy, all such players are small potatoes compared with the grandeur and glorious history and present day reality of basketball. If you don't worship basketball as a concept, it doesn't matter how talented or good a player you are, you are small in Karl's eyes.
Most coaches value players and what they do and what they might be able to do in the near future much more and abstract concepts much less than Karl does. Karl seems to think that if a team has the right philosophy, or in other words the right way of thinking, it can offset all kinds of other shortcomings. But to coin a phrase by twisting Shakespeare a little, there are more things important in basketball than Karl’s or Carmelo Anthony’s or J.R. Smith’s or anyone’s philosophy.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the two abstract concepts that are considered critical by most successful coaches, strategy and tactics, are not considered very important by Karl. So paradoxically, and very ironically, while the Nuggets have one of the most abstract coaches in pro basketball, they have one of the least developed and ineffective combination of strategies and tactics in the NBA. Because Karl’s favorite abstract concepts are not the ones that have the biggest payoffs in terms of wins.
Karl is always out for someone's blood for imagined slights against basketball honor, ethics, and morality as he defines them, and he is always playing damaging games of revenge with those who are the most lacking. J.R. Smith is by far the Nugget who Karl thinks commits the most offenses against basketball honor, tradition, and morality. And indeed, Smith, being nothing more than an impulsive 22 year old high school graduate who spends a lot of spare time playing video games and watching old movies, is about the last player you would think of when thinking of players who most epitomize the glory and honor of basketball and the history of basketball.
But who other than Karl really cares that Smith doesn’t fit the honor and tradition of basketball? To me, what is far more important is whether Smith can score and whether he can defend his man. And what is more important than having honorable and right thinking players who reflect well on the great sport of basketball is whether those players have been given some strategy and a few tactics which they can use to win games. Sorry if it seems selfish or crass to want to win more than to want to represent the glory and great traditions of the game, but that’s the way I see it and I am sticking to it.
So J.R. Smith is George Karl’s worst nightmare. Smith to Karl is seemingly someone whose every action or inaction seems to be an affront to the wonderful and glorious history and present day reality of the game. Karl seethes about it, and then overestimates Smith’s negatives and underestimates Smith’s positives. Then he takes the next logical action, which is to bench Smith, or at least partly bench him. Realistically, the only hope for Smith to get playing time often is if a key player is out with an injury or a sickness. The Chucky Atkins hernia was just what Smith needed to stand a chance to get good playing time from Karl, even though he is hated by Karl.
The continual benching and partial benching of JR Smith is just one example of how Karl's belief system produces for him a different reality from the one that the average fan sees. He literally sees things differently than most others do. There are many other, more subtle things that go on in the management of the Nuggets that make the team quite a bit different in actual games from how it would be if it were coached by most other possible alternative coaches. I will point out a few of those things when this story continues in the next report.