George Karl: Nuggets were ‘very stupid’ to fire me
When Nuggets president Josh Kroenke informed George Karl, he was being fired as coach, the recently named NBA Coach of the Year maintained his reputation for being blunt: ”I think I should tell you, I think it’s very stupid.”
On Karl’s feelings upon being fired:
“I’m not going to stand here and justify my (playoff) record,” Karl said, but he believed the franchise was on an upward tick, “and to blow that away, it leaves you helpless, speechless, powerless, sad, a lot of words.”
Did Karl see his firing coming?
“I never had a meeting where there was disappointment, in that part of it, voiced to me. I heard through whispers. I’m sorry that 57 wins doesn’t make you happy. I think it was a special season because of the connection this team has with each other and with the coaching staff and with the city. The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching.”
Karl on his relationship with the Nuggets front office:
“What I’ve loved about being here is with (the different front office regimes) is I felt we were all equal. This year, after the trade deadline, all of a sudden, I felt like Masai (Ujiri, the general manager) and Josh were over here, and I didn’t feel very equal.
“In the past, Stan (Kroenke, the team owner) would listen to all of us. I know I can be fired and the voices behind closed doors can be against me. But this year, I just felt that at the end, for a team that had so much success, unity and karma, I felt that Masai and Josh drifted into a direction that was difficult to understand.”
Did Karl want a contract extension in Denver?
“I didn’t demand an extension. I said to Josh, ‘I will coach this team next year, I’m excited about coaching this team next year, but in the last year of a contract, there are things that could happen.’ I didn’t say they would happen, I said they could happen. I said I didn’t think I deserved a three-year extension, but it’s a signed contract (with an option), so let’s compromise. I don’t think I deserved to get my option picked up, even if we won in the first round (of the playoffs), but there’s a middle ground. The thing that annoys me every day still is the fun connection we have with this team. They think they can unplug us and plug somebody else in, and I’m going, ‘Wow, that is not respectful of the coaching profession.’ “
Karl said he had already had preliminary discussions with the Grizzlies and Clippers about their head coaching positions — and that he wants to coach a contender:
“I want to coach three to four (years) at least. But I want to coach a good team. I don’t want to coach a rebuilding team.”