George Karl and the Nuggets have seemingly made all the right moves this season. Trading away Allen Iverson for Chauncey Billups has to go down as one of the biggest steals in recent NBA trade memory. Not only did Billups change the attitude of a Denver team that couldn’t get out of the first round, he provides playoff leadership which is not something that’s easy to find.
Carmelo seems to have finally put on his big boy pants too this season. He’s averaging 24 points this playoff run and appears to be cool and collected during recent games. Coach Karl also seems to be getting the most out of role players such as Chris Anderson and Dahntay Jones.
George Karl joined 104.3 The Fan in Denveron Thursday to talk about his team’s play and the culture of the team with Billups in fold for the 2009 playoffs:
On if he thinks the Nuggets are still flying under the radar nationally:
“When you have three days off you’re a little worried about getting too happy and reading the newspapers too much. I think my team has earned the right to get some credit and some respect, but I like my team’s focus and their discipline right now more than anytime since I’ve been here. We have a mental toughness that some of these other teams aren’t showing in some of the games. Sustaining that and keep learning from the playoff experience is something that’s happening. Once you win that first round I always felt like you could snowball the momentum, the courage and the commitment that comes with that enthusiasm.”
Coach Karl was asked if he was bothered by Billups getting all the credit for changing the culture of the team:
“To be honest with you it doesn’t really matter to me anymore. I think the basketball people and the NBA people, the coaches in the world, understand it. That is usually led by the coaching staff more so than any one player. We’re the guys that started the culture in August and September. We were doing a pretty good job with it then. I think Dahntay Jones and Anthony Carter and Chris Anderson, they didn’t have Chauncey in their kind of commitment to come here and resurrect their careers. Chauncey helped that but they were already on the move in that direction.”
On the maturation of Carmelo Anthony:
“It’s a process. I think he’s graduated from whatever you want to label it. Inexperienced playoff guy to a guy that now knows how serious you have to be and how hard at is for a star to be a star in the playoffs. I think he realizes that and you cant throw away cheap possessions defensively and he’s got to be more focused and disciplined.”
On how the playoffs are being officiated and if the game is becoming “soft”:
“If I had to vote, I would probably vote that the NBA is getting a little soft. I think the league has opened up the book and, I don’t know if you want to call it a can of worms, but it seems to be that they want to live in the world of interpretation. I’m not sure that helps. My frustration with the Kenyon (Martin) situation was that Kenyon was very hurt by the decision. He was kind of down that (next) morning before shoot around. As a coach, I didn’t know how to help him. I didn’t know what to tell him other than ‘he you’re being treated wrongly’ and sometimes that’s not the words that he wants to hear.”