Tag Archives: George Karl

Amar’e Stoudemire fuels feud with Bucks coach Skiles

Today at the Knicks afternoon shootaround in Cleveland, Amar’e Stoudemire took aim at Bucks coach Scott Skiles when asked about his 15th technical foul of the season, which Stoudemire received Wednesday in the final minute of the Bucks-Knicks game.

Stoudemire was tee’d up when he tossed his goggles after being whistled for his sixth foul.

“Scott Skiles probably doing what he does best: being out of control and having them make the call,” Stoudemire said.  — NY Post Knicks blog.

Asked if he ever played for Skiles, Stoudemire said, “No, I’m glad I didn’t.”

They just missed each other in Phoenix, where Skiles was coach until midseason 2002, just months before the Suns drafted Amar’e.  Given the defensive demands of playing for Skiles, Stoudemire, indeed, would have hated it.

Earlier this season after a blowout loss to the Bucks, Stoudemire questioned whether Skiles told the Bucks to retaliate against him for that little shove in Andrew Bogut’s back last March, which instigated AB’s season-ending fall and arm injury.

He actually accused Skiles of instructing the Bucks to “play physical” against him. Really.

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Just George being George

Denver coach George Karl lit into Carmelo Anthony after the Nuggets game last night against the Celtics.  I guess George didn’t like the fact that Carmelo’s not such a dedicated defensive player.

Ball Don’t Lie blog.

Seems like old times for George, though he’s certainly mellowed with age.

After the Bucks traded Ray Allen (err, after the Bucks traded Ray Allen, finished the season out with Gary Payton and let George go), George expounded to the press on Ray’s “disrespect” for the game of basketball.

“Oh, that’s just George being George,” explained Sam “I Am” Cassell at the time.

“WHEN THE GRASS IS CUT THE SNAKES WILL SHOW,” tweeted Carmelo.

The Big Dog, George, a case of the flu and a 3-9 Bucks start

Michael Redd made a rare appearance in Milwaukee last week, serving pre-Thanksgiving meals at the House of Peace on 17th and Walnut.  Redd said the House of Peace charity was kind of tradition handed down to him by Ray Allen, which — though it’s great that Redd continues on with the charity — isn’t exactly true.

His comments did bring back a memory of another Bucks team that went into a season with high expectations and started badly — worse even than this season’s frustrating 5-9 start.  Let’s turn back the clock to November 2000 and the annual House of Peace meal.  This, of course, is a true story.

The House of Peace giving was something a lot of players on the Bucks did, and usually coach George Karl was doing the passing as far as who was going to go with him to serve Thanksgiving meals from year to year.  In Redd’s rookie year (2000, when he was a practice player) Big Dog and Karl served dinners at the House of Peace.  Dog and George came back from the event with a nasty flu bug that infected half the team and dogged the Bucks to a 3-9 start.

Big Dog was so sick he missed a game. Karl, who was just as sick, did not.  George stewed on it for a couple of days, and when Dog and Sam and Jason Caffey were dragging it a little bit during a road travel transfer (they were probably stoned), Karl blew up.   Big Dog, still sick as a dog (but probably stoned) snapped back, starting a bunch of rumors that the Dog and George had stopped talking to one another.  Dog and Sam were punished by having to start a game on the bench.  This was also around the time that Ray and Big Dog were stripped of their co-captaincy and the “C” was sewn onto Ervin Johnson’s jersey.

It was at that point that the 3-9 “Big Three” Bucks returned to Milwaukee for a few games and Big Dog went on a rebounding and scoring tear that ignited the rest of the team — those who could be ignited — some (like Ray, who never took criticism from George Karl very well) were still woozy with the flu (Dog and George, who had it first, got well first).  But by December everybody was healthy, Ray’s head was clear and his shot was falling at devastating regularity and the Bucks finished the season out 49-21.  The rest is crooked refereeing history.

George has always taken credit for managing the 2000-01 team in such a way, just the right way, that made the magic possible.  Karl deserves the credit.  But in looking back at how the season started, and how and when it turned around, I can’t help but wonder close the Bucks were to imploding, and how easily Karl might have missed the connection, that magical NBA championship-worthy thing the Bucks had going in 2001.

What if … Karl that November had served House of Peace dinners with a player NOT named Glenn Robinson?

The Revenge of the Airball struck again in Philly

The Bucks just can’t shake the mojo that the Philadelphia 76ers have over them, and they fell victim to it once again Friday in a regrettable 90-79 loss to the (ouch) 2-10 Sixers in Philly.    Throw the team records out — Sixers have won three of the last five matchups and 6 0f 8 since Scott Skiles took over as coach.  Philly had won 7 straight before the Bucks seemingly broke the spell last January in what was likely Allen Iverson’s last game in the arena where he staged so many of his career highlights – the Bradley Center.

The Sixers have always been the Bucks nemesis, their greatest rival when times were good and Nellie’s Bucks in the early 1980’s were one of the best teams in the NBA — one of the best teams in history never to win a title, and certainly the best team in NBA history never to play in the Finals.  Forget 1991, the year the 48-win Del Harris Bucks were swept out of the playoffs by Charles Barkley’s Sixers —  there was something else amiss in Philly’s recent domination of the Bucks.  It can be traced back to Iverson’s first shot in the NBA, an airball that bounced harmlessly out of bounds on Nov. 1, 1996.

Was the spell broken last January?   Alas, no — “The Airball” is still exacting its revenge, and the Sixers showed Friday that they don’t need “The Answer,” Andre Iguodala or Sam Dalembert to stymie the Bucks — Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams will do just fine, shades of 2008 and 2009 when the Sixers were winning seven straight against the sluggish Michael Redd teams.  Interesting to note that Young and Williams are Mo Cheeks players, guys who, like their coach in his playing days, have always seemed to light up when they see a Milwaukee Bucks uniform.

The 5-8 Bucks. The silver lining for the Bucks these days could be the realization that, for the most part — until last weekend — they’ve been playing fairly well against a tough early season schedule and coming up painfully short in a few close games (two against the Hornets, OT in Boston and Saturday in a very winnable game against the Thunder, playing without Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer.  Add that one-point loss to either of the Hornets games as one the Bucks want back.

Yet it’s some consolation that their strength of schedule ranking is 12th in the league, better than everybody in the Central Division but the Bulls, with two Central games on the schedule this week in Cleveland and Detroit.  On some level, the Bucks have simply been an unlucky team that can’t catch a break.

The Bucks schedule for the first 35 games is tough, at no time tougher than next week when they head west for a Utah-Denver road swing, then come back home to play the Heat and the Magic.  No, it’s not much consolation, but the Bucks record should eventually turn around.  It will probably take a while … and they’ll have to do some good work on the road in the west in December to mitigate the depth of the hole they’ll likely be in come January.  Maybe they’ll even get lucky a time or two.

NBA Playoffs: “Dammit Ray!”

Strange Days for the Celtics  So how does a team that went 37-45 in the regular season, the youngest team in the playoffs, shock basketball fans everywhere by deadlocking the best team in basketball 2-2 in the first round of the playoffs?

The series that was the best excuse for going back to the bye system – remember the week off Nellie’s Bucks teams got at the end of each season – is now one of the more befuddling matchups in sports. And Joe Johnson, the Hawks shooting guard noticed only by Hawks fans at this year’s All-Star game, has arrived.

Johnson scored 35 points last night, 20 in a Jordan-esque fourth quarter. The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, only to watch helplessly as Johnson and the Hawks outscored them 32-17 to take game four of the seven game series.

In the process, Johnson made his coach, Mike Woodson, look like an offensive genius. Woodson simply isolated Johnson (at Johnson’s suggestion) one-on-one against Ray Allen, whose defense last night was about as soft as the defense he usually played when he was a Milwaukee Buck. Charmin soft. Textbook matador. After one driving Johnson basket in the fourth quarter, the TNT cameras panned to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, just as he was screaming, unmistakably, in all silent-screen actor obviousness, DAMMIT RAY!!!

Not to let Rivers off the hook. Doc was thoroughly outcoached by Woodson.  As Woodson’s Hawks formed their isolation set possession after possession, Johnson starting nearly at half court in one corner against Ray as the rest of the Hawks gathered along the opposite sideline, Rivers had no answer. He just left Allen to defend Johnson and all that open court by himself. “DAMMIT RAY!!!” was all he had.

Rivers last night might have turned in one of the worst-coached games of the postseason were it not for Denver coach George Karl’s pathetic job all last week against the Lakers. (I digress). The only basket the Celtics scored in the first EIGHT minutes of the 4th quarter was a three-pointer by Ray Allen, easily the best Celtics player on the court in the final 12 minutes. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce looked like rec league players.

Some of it was just bad, dumb luck – the Celtics worked hard for some good shots that, in the 4th, just rattled out. But great basketball teams make their own luck, and that’s where the Celtics fell short. (Nope, not gonna go for any of those hackneyed Irish cliches).

Bucks fans watching the game had to wonder why Rivers left Sam Cassell on the Celtics bench until the final 1:30 of the game. Sam “I Am” will find a way for his team to score more than four points in eight minutes. The trick is to put him in the game and give him the ball. Even George Karl understood that.

Come to think of it, any coach who has Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Sam Cassell at his disposal yet, minute after minute, puts the ball in the hands of a guy named Rajon Rondo, deserves all the trouble that Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks can give them.

 “Basketball is a strange thing,” Cassell said after the game. “Strange things happen.” (Like another former Buck, Zaza Pachula, squaring off against future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett).

After last night’s game, I’m having a difficult time picturing the Celtics beating Lebron’s Cavaliers in the East semifinals – assuming the Celtics manage to get past the Hawks in this first round.

George Karl, the overrated  Having watched the Nuggets more than most NBA teams this season other than the Bucks, I’ve come to the conclusion that George Karl was absolutely full of it during his five years as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, especially on defense. George Karl is no defensive coach. 

Karl’s Denver Nuggets, led by Allen Iverson, last night became the first 50-win team in NBA history to be swept out of the playoffs last night by Kobe and the Lakers. Karl’s greatest talent as a coach is to take supremely talented teams and make them playoff underachievers. He did it in Seattle (two surpise first round flops). He did it in Milwaukee in three mediocre regular seasons in five years. Now he’s done it in Denver.

Not to lay it all on Karl’s doorstep. Allen Iverson and fellow guard J.R. Smith, who led the Nuggets reserves, were the only two Nuggets players who seemed to give a headband that their season was coming to an end. Carmelo Anthony’s looking round and melo – if he doesn’t lay off the potato chips, beer and weed, he’s going to turn into Antoine Walker.

The disappointing West  The ultra-competitive Western Conference has been anything but in the playoffs. With a few notable exceptions (game one of the Spurs-Suns series, which left the Suns demoralized), the Western matchups have been yawners. The vast majority of the great playoff basketball being played this year has come in the East.  Cavs-Wizards has been intense. Pistons-76ers has been a war. The Hawks, again, the youngest team in the playoffs, have stunned everyone against the Celtics.

The Lakers are as good as advertised, maybe even great. But the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets stumbled into the playoffs burnt out from the long regular season. Maybe 82-games is too many. Some of the older players just look tired (Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin – 30 years old and two knee surgeries). Injuries have taken their toll (Houston).

It’s no coincidence that the younger teams are beginning to emerge. The Orlando Magic, the Hawks, the Sixers, and the Chris Paul-led Charlotte Hornets have all impressed. Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix are beginning to wane. I’d say that about the Spurs but I know better. The Celtics are being tested.

Lebron James and the Cavaliers nursed injuries all season long and only won 45 games. But the Cavs are built for the playoffs, not the regular season, and they are proving it. Like the Spurs, they’re a seven-game series team.

The regular season is only a snapshot of NBA basketball in time. Sometimes the camera lies, and this seems to be one of those seasons.