Gary Payton spent much of his career playing for George Karl. In fact, they spent their best years together in Seattle, reaching the NBA Finals in 1996. Payton loves Karl. Didn’t always love him, but grew to love him. That love continues to this day.
But even Payton isn’t a fan of Karl’s new book, “Furious George,” in which the 65-year-old criticizes, well, pretty much everyone. Karl even took shots at former players Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin and suggested they were immature because they grew up without fathers.
“When you go and start talking about people’s families and how they were raised, I don’t agree with George with that,” Payton said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I disagree with him on all of that. When you say somebody doesn’t have a father figure, it’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have a father figure, and I hate that. I grew up around a lot of my childhood friends that didn’t have a father figure and my father was their figure, so (George) can’t say that. If his father wasn’t there, then I think George should have came in and approached them and said ‘I see the problem. Let me help you.’ Don’t come out years later and try to downgrade them about anything. You wasn’t saying that when you were there.
“When he was with Carmelo in Denver, he should have been helping him instead of (coming) out with a book and trying to downgrade him right now,” Payton continued. “A lot of kids don’t have father figures, and I think Carmelo and the guys and Kenyon grew up and they did well to get in the NBA and did what they do. I respect them because I’ve seen this a lot. That was just really wrong. George should have never took himself to that level. Because he had a father figure, that doesn’t downgrade nobody else that didn’t have a father figure. You should help these kids and become a father figure – and that’s what he did for me. That’s why I didn’t get it. I don’t get why he did that because I think I was worser than Carmelo and Kenyon because I usually cuss him out every day. But he shouldn’t (criticize) two guys (without fathers).”
Payton, 48, said that he and Karl didn’t get along initially, but eventually they did – and Payton benefitted immensely.
“Me and him bumped heads at first,” Payton said. “George is a person where, at first, he’s hard to get along with, but you have to get along with him. But if you do get along with him, he’s going to deal with you. He’s going to let you do whatever you need to do. But we were rocky at first. I went back at him; he went back at me. But then he became that father figure for me. I spent seven or eight years with him, and he improved my game to another level. I was struggling in the NBA until he came, and then I started making All-Stars, I started doing better, I started working out in the summers.”
Karl was an NBA head coach for 27 seasons. He spent time with the Cavs, Warriors, SuperSonics, Bucks, Nuggets and Kings and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2013. But his final stop, Sacramento, did not go well. Karl, who signed a four-year deal with the Kings in February 2015, lasted just 14 months. He feuded with DeMarcus Cousins from the start and was fired in April.
“When he started getting these others players and all that, they didn’t know how to adjust to him, and I think that he didn’t know how to adjust to them, so that’s where all the tension and the problems (began),” Payton said. “He’s old-school and he expects something different, and these players are not like that right now. They’re young-school, they want to play, they want to get up down the floor, they don’t want to take that, and that’s just the way it is.”
Karl may wind up selling a lot of books, but it may cost him his reputation in NBA circles.
“I think it’s all going to be negative for George right now,” Payton said. “George had already rubbed the wrong side with a lot of people, but they just didn’t know him, and now they know him. I think he’s just a guy who’s telling his story, and he told his story and he’s going to sell a book. He’s going to sell a lot of these books because a lot of people want to know more and more about what happened and where he was at. But a lot of these people in the NBA are going to take this very personal.”