When Ray Allen and George Karl crossed paths in Milwaukee, the Bucks faithful thought they finally had a fighting chance to bring the championship back to “Cream City.” As far as resumes go, Allen and Karl certainly gave the Bucks organization to believe in that too. Allen had already hit his stride at the time, while Karl had already led a team to the NBA Finals in the past.
However, what Milwaukee didn’t anticipate was the clash of egos between the two.
A lowkey yet constant dislike
Known for being often composed, Allen said he and Karl never argued, but the unspoken truth was that the coach never liked everything about him. And by that, Allen meant everything! Even the way he dressed heading into games.
But unlike other coach-player feuds, the silent rift between Allen and Karl went on without drastically affecting the Bucks’ performance as a team. Nevertheless, Ray-Ray concluded he didn’t need to hear it from Karl himself to realize that “there’s nothing I can do right for this guy.”
“The funny thing is, I never had any confrontation with George,” Allen revealed in 2018 via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It was always, ‘George doesn’t like you.’ I was hearing this from other people. Why? I think he didn’t like the way I was, the type of person I was. There was a Sports Illustrated article about me that said I wore a suit to games, and Karl said I cared more about being cool than being tough. Ultimately, he just didn’t like me.”
Better off this way
Of course, every conflict would somehow, at some point, reach its boiling point. After being touted as championship contenders in 2001, the Bucks made a dramatic change for the worse and went from the second-best team in the East to not making it to the playoffs. It was evident that the Karl-Allen feud was intensifying, and the Bucks had to make a decision. In the middle of the 2002-03 season, Milwaukee pulled the plug and traded Allen for Gary Payton via a multi-player deal.
Since the split, Allen got even better and became one of the best shooting guards of his generation in Seattle. He carried on and won a championship with the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat before calling it quits in 2014.
Years have passed since he officially retired, but Allen still hasn’t spoken to Karl. Lifting the lid on the subject, Ray-Ray said it just doesn’t make sense.
“I don’t feel the need to say anything to him,” Allen said of Karl. “It was clear that he didn’t like me. He did what he did to move me on. I can’t waste time or energy on people who don’t like me.”
Until Allen and Karl talk to each other, we, and even the two of them, will never know what the deal really is between them.