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George Karl once got into a fight with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp because of alley-oops: "It was a great example of disrespecting the game and the opponent."

The Supersonics were one of the most spectacular teams from the 90's but their head coach George Karl didn't like the approach his dynamic duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton had when executing these types of plays
That time George Karl confronted Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp because of alley-oops

Karl details why he was enraged when they would do a fancy alley-oop when they could have just finished the play with a layup or a simple dunk.

The Seattle Supersonics squad from the 90s, led by the dynamic duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, and coached by George Karl, was one of the most exciting teams from that era in the NBA. The Supersonics were a unique team by all standards, epitomizing dominance, success, and a high-flying style of play that electrified the crowd at the Key Arena during those years. They had it all but were never able to win the NBA title despite having several seasons when they were considered a legitimate championship contender and a true powerhouse in the league.

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Different ideas about the right way to play

The thing that probably brings back the most memories from that team is the duo of Kemp and Payton throwing down some of the craziest and most spectacular dunks in the NBA at the time. They were young, entertaining, and wanted to showcase their talent every night against other opponents, especially on their home court. According to George Karl, their head coach at the time, there was a clash between his two best players and himself, and in his book "Furious George", he details why he was enraged when they would do a fancy alley-oop when they could have just finished the play with a layup or a simple dunk.

"Our fans yelled "Oh!" in unison when Shawn threw one down. But it wasn't all sunshine in Seattle. Gary, Shawn, and I had different ideas about the right way to play. Sometimes they decided that a simple fast-break layup or dunk was just too boring. Gary would pass up his easy shot in favor of an alley-oop or bounce the ball off the backboard for Shawn to swoop in and jam it. The crowd would go nuts. Or I would. I could hardly think of a better example of disrespecting the game and the opponent."

Karl was frustrated with how they were executing plays, and one day he confronted Payton about it, who had a hilarious response to his request, saying Karl isn't his dad to make these types of requests. That was also a moment when veterans on the team stepped in to make things run smoothly between Payton and Karl in these situations. Karl needed help from his older players to give Payton some lessons on good behavior and respecting his head coach. It was a perfect example of veteran leadership at its finest. 

"You're not my dad!" Gary said one time after I yelled at him. "I don't want to be your dad!" I replied. We were both using MFs and GDs. I don't have to repeat because you can easily imagine it. What might be hard to imagine was how much anger we truly felt. I give a lot of credit to Nate and Gurg for intervening and keeping the body count at zero. Gary was a match for all of us."

Luckily for the fans, they soon found common ground, and the show Kemp and Payton put on display continued but with a bit more structure than before. They were winning games while showcasing some of the best basketball in the NBA during those years, building a brand as one of the most iconic teams in the league. 

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