Kenyon Martin was one of the toughest players in the NBA and, above everything else, a great defender who played for several great teams throughout his career. In a recent interview for the BasketballNews podcast, Kenyon Martin talked about how the Utah Jazz didn't allow Donovan Mitchell to play in game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Even though Mitchell was ready to play, their coaching staff decided to sit out him, which resulted in Utah Jazz losing the game.
Kenyon explains how frustrating it is to sit out games even though you can play, especially if the coach is the one making that request. He talked about a specific situation that happened when he played for the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs against the Clippers. George Karl, who was the Nuggets head coach, played Kenyon only in the first half for seven minutes, which caused immense frustrations.
Kenyon admitted he was so mad at Karl he wanted to physically fight him because of his decision not to play him in a crucial playoff game. Luckily for everyone involved, he decided not to make that mistake because he didn't want to end up like Latrell Sprewell, who choked PJ Carlesimo in practice and earned a bad reputation throughout the league.
I acted a fool when George Karl played me seven minutes in the first half, and I threatened to beat him up at halftime. Real story, and it was when we were playing the Clippers in the playoffs. Seven minutes, game two. I lost my s**t on that man. If Sprewell never choked PJ Carlesimo, I would have beat George up in that hall. He played me for seven minutes. Can you imagine that not playing me at all in a playoff game? The fool I would have acted.
Kenyon Martin, via BasketballNews
Coaches have their reasons for not playing certain players in specific games. Sometimes they are justified, and sometimes it's not but trying to beat up your coach should never be the answer because it can only lead to consequences that can jeopardize a player's career. Luckily for Kenyon Martin, he soon realized confronting George Karl wouldn't bring anything good for him or the team.