George Karl praises Carmelo Anthony’s offense, but says he’s too focused on off-court issues

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George Karl is trying to sell a lot of books.

He says in an interview with New York Magazine that he wants to coach again in the NBA. That bridge looks to be on fire right now.

That interview covers some of the controversies from the book, specifically calling Carmelo Anthony and other players of his generation (and younger) AAU babies and saying that his upbringing without a father, along with those of Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith hurt them. Martin and Smith fired back, as did others, but Anthony took the high road.

Speaking to New York Magazine, Karl tried to clarify his position.

But here’s what I’ll say now: Melo is a hell of a player, the best offensive player I’ve ever coached. I owe him as much as anyone for my having a great record. But there’s a new generation of players interested in personal branding and gaining money and power off the court, and that’s all new to me. There were too many times with Melo when what was going on off the court was more important than what was happening on the court. It bothered me then and it bothers me now. That kind of thing bothered me just the other night.

Some will praise Karl’s old-school stance, to me it shows a guy out of touch. Not just with the modern NBA player but the modern world.

Does Anthony care about his off-the-court brand? Yes. So does LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and I could go on and on — but they don’t let that impact their play on the court. Guys today put in more time on conditioning and off-season work than most did in Karl’s era. Are you telling me Kobe didn’t leave it all out there? Same with Anthony. He has flaws in his game no doubt, but those are not about his shoe line or his clothing lines or his other business collaborations and endorsements. They are about his game, and Anthony unquestionably has put in the work to get his game to the future Hall of Famer level it is.

Karl — and Phil Jackson — came up in an era when players played, many made so little money they had second jobs, and the ones that did have money hired white guys in suits to handle it for them. Endorsements were handled by agents and players just followed along. Today’s players want to control their money, their image, their brand — as they should. That’s just being a good businessman. Karl doesn’t have to like it, but his distaste for it (along with his ego) is part of the reason he rubs so many of his former players the wrong way.

Karl also says in the interview he is an NBA conspiracy theorist on referees. Maybe he’d get along well with Paul George.