Mark Jackson took shots at George Karl during ESPN's broadcast of the Lakers' Game 2 blowout of the Trail Blazers. And thank God he did - it added to an entertainment value to otherwise anticlimactic 48 minutes of basketball.
It all started with a subtle shot, as Jackson praised Carmelo's defensive efforts by saying that 'people who killed Carmelo Anthony for his defense in the past were wrong.' Now, this doesn't narrow it down. So many have killed Melo for his defense, that you can't point at coach Karl just by this comment alone. But it didn't end there.
OK, I'll tell you this, there's a shared responsibility for whoever allowed that defense to be played. Because for some reason, he is bought in with this culture and he's committed to it.
Mark Jackson, ESPN
Ok - this does narrow it down. It's clear Jackson was referring to one of Melo's former coaches or guys who 'allowed that defense to be played.' Which one in particular - there's no irrefutable evidence for. But read between the lines, as did coach Karl himself.
The former helmsman of the 90s SuperSonics felt that Jackson's shots were directed at him, and fairly so. In a group of Carmelo's defensive critics, Karl's voice has always been the loudest. George even immortalized it in his memoir "Furious George," where he called Anthony a "true conundrum" who was addicted to the spotlight and only cared about the offensive side of the floor.
"He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense. 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.”
George Karl, Furious George
Karl, the ultimate critic of Carmelo's defensive efforts, had every right to feel like Jackson was firing shots at him. He also had every right to fire back. And he did, with a ruthless Twitter response.
George Karl out! The ultimate mic drop moment by '13 Coach of the Year. Especially that last bit about the Warriors becoming a dynasty after Jackson was replaced with Steve Kerr. In his first year taking over, with the same roster Jackson had at his disposal, Kerr took Golden State from 51 to 67 wins, and from a first-round exit to an NBA championship. Now Steve has always been the one to give credit to Jackson for his impact on the foundations of the Warriors dynasty, but the fact is that a coaching change transitioned an average postseason participant into an NBA champion within one season. So it's obviously a touchy territory for Jackson, but Karl had no trouble going there.
In terms of Karl calling out Mark on his coaching accolades, he sure has the bragging rights in that department. Other than winning the already mentioned Coach of the Year award, George has coached in four All-Star games, has made the NBA Finals with Seattle in '96, and had coached two DPOY winners in Gary Payton and Marcus Camby. Mark Jackson hasn't done any of those things.
So with all things combined, it isn't hard to declare the winner of this little former-coach beef. It's George Karl, and the decision is unanimous.