While he yearns and waits for one final chance to coach a NBA team, future Hall of Famer George Karl travels from time to time wherever his basketball jones may take him.
This week, it took him from his home in Denver to Eden Prairie where, along with former Penn State coach Bruce Parkhill, he is a featured guest at a “Supreme Coach” tournament that’s part reality-show competition, part clinic and part networking opportunity. It drew 62 coaches, in ages from their 20s to their 50s, to a health club.
During a break, Karl discussed some of the offers Timberwolves president of basketball operations and new coach Flip Saunders reportedly has received for star Kevin Love and how he wants one more NBA job so he can surpass Phil Jackson on the league’s all-time list of coaching victories if the man with 1,131 victories gets 25 more:
1. What are you doing here in Eden Prairie, of all places?
I kind of like trying to do out-of-the-box things. I’ll go to Australia and India, just to get the pulse of basketball in different places. I’ve always enjoyed doing stuff like that. I’ve always thought the high school coach and the Division III and the junior-college coach don’t get a lot of love and social reward. They’re good coaches. There are good coaches everywhere. Just because they’re not in the NBA doesn’t mean they don’t know basketball. The coaches here, I was impressed with their passion, their drive and knowledge. My impression after interviewing them is they were very soulful, you could feel their commitment, their desire.
2. What do you think the NBA’s latest trend, hiring rookie coaches?
If I was coaching, I’d be happy right now with all the guys who are going to need some time to learn how to do it. That was always my feeling when you’re established with your team. Like Golden State is a good team, but you’re probably happy they’re hiring an inexperienced coach rather than a guy you know is credible. Steve Kerr could become a great coach, but I think it’s going to take time. Same with Derek [Fisher]. Derek has a great demeanor, a great personality, but he’s going to make mistakes.
3. You proved in Denver that a team can trade away a star and keep winning after Carmelo Anthony left. What do you think of the offers you’ve heard rumored for Kevin Love, such as three guys you’ve coached in Denver: Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler and Arron Afflalo?
They’re all good basketball players. I don’t know if any of them are All-Stars. I think Faried probably has a chance. But they’re not a star-quality player.
4. Do you think Golden State’s Klay Thompson can be?
I think Klay and David Lee are. I think they can be, yeah. I think Klay can become the best shooter in basketball. I think Flip likes that kind of player, too, a guy who’s a shooter off screens. And I thought Klay was very good defensively.
5. How do you like your new career, doing television commentary for ESPN?
I don’t know if I like it. I enjoy it. I don’t think I’m going to get excited going to Bristol [Connecticut, home to ESPN] now. But when I get there … you stay in the game. I’ve been blessed by this game. I can’t complain. If I don’t ever get another job again, I’ve had a great career. I want one more chance. I want one more opportunity but if the game doesn’t give it to me, I can go home knowing the game has been a blessing in my life. I’ll always have something to do with the game. I’m sixth now on the [all-time win] list. The only drive I have left now is Phil’s next. I want to get ahead of Phil.