In this week’s coaching conversation, one of the all-time winningest coaches in NBA history George Karl joins the Basketball Podcast to share his basketball coaching insights from a legendary coaching career.
The 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year, George Karl most recently served as head coach of the Sacramento Kings from 2015 to 2016.
Throughout his career, Karl collected 1,175 wins over 22 winning seasons with a .588 winning percentage. He also led his teams to 22 postseason appearances including the NBA Finals in 1996 with Seattle. Karl’s NBA coaching career has included time with the Cleveland Cavaliers (1984-86), Golden State Warriors (1986-88), Seattle SuperSonics (1992-98), Milwaukee Bucks (1998-2003), the Nuggets (2005-13), and the Kings (2015-16). While with the Denver Nuggets, Karl became the seventh NBA coach to record 1,000 career wins.
Karl was a standout high school star who was recruited to play at the University of North Carolina. In four seasons at Chapel Hill, Karl earned All-ACC honors three times and was selected by the New York Knicks in the fourth round of the 1973 NBA Draft. Karl made his head coaching debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1984, and would go on to coach 1,999 games for the Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, and Sacramento Kings. 680 of those games were for his hometown Nuggets.
During Karl’s career, his teams advanced to the playoffs 22 times in 27 seasons, making three appearances in the conference finals and one trip to the NBA Finals. Karl coached the likes of NBA icons Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.
Presently, Karl is a co-owner of Truth+Media, a media business developing rich and engaging content focused on sports and leadership. The Truth+ podcasts, Sonics Forever and Truth+Basketball with George Karl, have become top hoops podcasts internationally in countries including the US, Australia, Canada and Spain.
George Karl Coach Quotes:
“I think the pro game right now is tilting a little bit back to the defense . . the trend in the NBA right now is you cannot play players that can’t play defense.”
“My thing was I wanted to play fast, with pace and play quicker than everybody else because the defense is weaker and it’s more fun to play that way.”
“All I tried to do through playing fast was speed up the decisions of the game, which creates positive energy and flow to the offense having the advantage rather than the defense having the advantage.”
“Analytics and physiological evaluation of fatigue has now become a big part of our game; sleep patterns are a big part of our game. I believe in all that becauseI think mental flow comes by being professional to your body.”
“In today’s game, there’s limited time [to practice]. So, as a coach, we’ve got to communicate better in the time that we have with them [the players].”
“I started more of my practices with offense, and offensive games like 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 . . I started flip-flopping, offense starts practice one day, defense the next day.”
“I don’t like slowing down practice. I want the coaching to be on the move, maybe in 30 seconds segments. I don’t want a five minute lecture in the middle of my practice.”
“Knowing how to play basketball can be taught. If a guy is a bad decision maker, he can become a better decision maker. If he has bad shot selection, we can change his shot selection.”
“We ran a box and one defense when I coached Real Madrid and we only ran it after we made threes. So when we made a three, we’re in box-and-one. And the guy that made the three could pick up anybody he wanted to pick up.”
“The first thing Coach Smith ever told me about coaching is 90% of all coaches over coach. I still think that’s true today.”
George Karl Breakdown:
1:00 – His Philosophy and Influence to Others
4:00 – Aggressive Defensive Approach
9:00 – Freedom To Players
15:00 – Analytics
17:00 – At The Rim
22:00 – Giving Up At The Personnel
24:00 – Modern Game
28:00 – Learnings and Coaching Experience
33:00 – Making Practice Fun
36:00 – Playing Basketball in Practice
43:00 – Suggestions to Young Coaches
47:00 – Hiring Staff
54:00 – Educating The Media
58:00 – College Basketball
1:01:00 – Player Development Movement
1:02:00 – Conclusion
George Karl Links from the Podcast:
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