George Karl Doesn’t Like Damian Lillard

Photo Credit: USATSI & David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Photo Credit: USATSI & David Zalubowski / Associated Press

George Karl Doesn’t Like Damian Lillard


It hasn’t been too long ago, that Coach Karl went on a rant about J.R Smith, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin amongst other players he coached, about using PED’s, and other questionable accusations. Now, Karl seems to have a problem with Damian Lillard too. In an interview with the ‘New York Magazine’, he went  on a rant about Damian Lillard, calling him the reason why the Blazers are struggling.


I’m sure you saw how people already picked up on your calling Carmelo Anthony a “user.” What’s an example of Carmelo’s being a “user”?
I think what I have to say about that is in the book. But here’s what I’ll say now: Melo is a hell of a player, the best offensive player I’ve ever coached. I owe him as much as anyone for my having a great record. But there’s a new generation of players interested in personal branding and gaining money and power off the court, and that’s all new to me. There were too many times with Melo when what was going on off the court was more important than what was happening on the court. It bothered me then and it bothers me now. That kind of thing bothered me just the other night.

What happened?
I was watching the Portland Trailblazers play, and I was trying to figure out, What the hell is wrong with this team? My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention.

What makes you think that?
Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?

I get that the idea of self-sacrifice makes sense to a coach. You guys are judged on wins and loses. But isn’t it entirely rational for an NBA player to be at least a little selfish? Their careers are short and they retire, by the latest, in their late 30s. Why shouldn’t players put their financial goals first?
That sounds like something that should be on First Take. This is all part of the evolution of basketball players making millions of dollars when a lot of these guys don’t know how to handle that money. The league should be focused on helping the players not lose the money they earn. I’m 65 years old and I’ve lost a lot of money in bad investments because I wasn’t qualified to be making financial judgments. The league needs to do more to help its young men be more advanced financially. I know it has programs for players, but it needs to connect those players with financial institutions that can say, “We’re not going to guarantee that you’ll make money, but we can guarantee you’re not going to lose money.”

I always thought of Karl as a great coach, but his recent statements make me feel like he might not have the matching character. Whether it is him trying to push sales for his newly released book, therefore some kind of weird marketing strategy, or his real thoughts, I really don’t like where this is going.

Portland coach Terry Stots instantly came in to defend his star player, saying that Karl needs to stay in his own lane.

“As you know, I owe a lot to George. I got my start in coaching with George. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. He’s a successful coach. That being said, if he wants to diminish his chances for the Hall of Fame, if he wants to undermine his chances at being a head coach again in this league, if he wants to settle old scores with GMs or players or whoever else, that’s his prerogative.”

“But when it comes to my team and my players, he needs to stay in his own lane. He doesn’t know Damian Lillard. 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 don’t quite understand, I can’t tolerate.”


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