By George Karl with Don Yeager
This is a nice supplement to Full Court Pressure (about the 1993-94 Sonics). This is a more in-depth look at Sonics coach George Karl. Karl goes through his years at the University of North Carolina, the ABA, and onto coaching with the Cleveland Cavaliers, (where he turned around that hapless franchise in one season only to see it come apart the next), the Golden State Warriors, the CBA, Spain, and finally Seattle. Personally, I have always liked the guy, since he came to Seattle and turned around an underachieving .500 club under KC Jones into a pressing, running team that became one of the league's elite. I also admired his handling of the deep bench and juggling of big egos. Finally, I like his outspokenness and I find myself agreeing with many of his views of how the NBA has turned into a circus act, promoting foolishness in order to make a buck, and his views of the modern superstar.
Surprising tidbit: While he doesn't like Dennis Rodman's court antics (this book was written after the Bulls and Sonics met in the 1996 finals), he appreciates what he does for his team and would take him in a minute --ok, no surpass there, but how about this? Rodman and Karl are buds! Who'da thought?
You also learn about Karl's relationship with his players: not just Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, but also Kendall Gill, and Vincent Askew, who sadly, acted like a self-centered bunghole in the 1996 finals, and whom Karl had to bench and release, even though they had a long running friendship and Karl gave Askew his break to play in the NBA consistently.
He also presents his views on what the league should do to improve the quality of the game. He also has his insightful pointers, such as how Michael Jordan out-psyched the Sonics in the 1996 finals and how Karl's college coach, Dean Smith, builds a winning program and instills that winning attitude in his players.
Two quotes that I really enjoyed sums up George Karl's views, in my opinion:
"I love playing against coaches who think they're brilliant. There's no genius in coaching. There are motivators and there are guys who get a little more luck, but no geniuses."
"After losing, you should never search for excuses. You humble yourself. You accept your loss and you think about what happened and become a better player because of the loss."
This is one of the better books written by a coach. Not just for the insight, but also because of his outspokenness and his wit.
This Game's the Best! (So Why Don't They Stop Screwing with It?). George Karl St. Martin's Press. 1997.