George Karl: “Screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship.”December 19, 2011 – 8:00 am by Steven Cuce
Nene Hilario re-signed with the Denver Nuggets on a five-year, $67 million contract last week. George Karl sounds fired up about the move. The Nuggets head coach believes his team doesn’t need a superstar to win a championship, and the cancer survivor sounds intent on proving to the basketball world that Denver is better off without Carmelo Anthony. It’s evident that Karl isn’t happy with superstar players having so much say on moving to the bigger market teams that they want to play for, but with his particular Nuggets squad, he doesn’t think the lack of a marquee name precludes the team from competing in the 2011-2012.
George Karl joined KKFN in Denver with Mike Evans and Scott Hastings to talk about what his message would be to Nuggets fans regarding Nene Hilario who Denver just re-signed, the Nuggets being a contender without a superstar player, winning with a veteran group mixed in with some young talent, and the importance of retaining Arron Afflalo.
What is your message for Nuggets fan with Nene Hilario? How should they view Nene?
“I think, I hope, as I am preaching to the team is the Denver Nuggets is going to be out being a team. It has nothing to do about individuality and basically screw all the guys out there that think you gotta have a superstar to win a championship. I’m just not into the hype. I’m into some of the things we did when we went 18-7 and I can take anyone who wants to come into our film [room]. We can splice up the Oklahoma City game and for you and don’t put a scoreboard on it and you can tell me who won that series? It would be very difficult to chose if you take free throw misses out of the game and basically take the first 15 minutes of the game 2 out of the game. Everybody is in love with Oklahoma City. No one is in love with the Denver Nuggets. I guarantee you if you don’t put a scoreboard on the video you wouldn’t be able to pick who won the game. I’m excited because if Oklahoma City is the darlings of the NBA and we are not that far from them. I think Josh [Kroenke] and the organization has unity that the Nuggets haven’t had for 4 or 5 years. I think unity is felt by the players for the first time in two or three years. I think having Andre Miller back even magnifies it into an even better place with having Andre [Miller] and Ty [Lawson] back together on the basketball court for these last 6 practices has been an incredible experience for me. I have been in a lot of practices and I have never seen two point guards go at each other like they have gone at each other for 6 days. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of.
You want to talk about Gallo [Danilo Gallinari]? We’re excited about that. Timofey Mozgov is going to be a legit 25 minute center in the NBA hopefully this year, but he will be there. I think he will get there this year. It may take him a year or two, but he definitely will be a big-time NBA center. Nene likes that. I think I also like him being a big. I also like playing fast and quick. We’ll see how we do. The only thing right now that doesn’t make me happy I think the trade to get Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer – three years ago when Corey Brewer was playing in Minnesota or two years ago maybe when he was playing in Minnesota we thought Corey Brewer was the fasting player running the court in the NBA and that’s why we picked him up. Rudy Fernandez we think can be a J.R. [Smith], but maybe more sanity. Okay right now the only thing I’m really thinking we are not able to replace is Wilson [Chandler], which there is a chance I think we can get him back when their season ends and a little bit of Kenyon Martin is grit and toughness. There’s no question Kenyon and Nene in the 4th quarter was a great luxury for us to have. We’re probably going to have to do that with some team concepts and some reads and some circumstances that were probably different from last year. I’m excited man. I can keep the list going if you want.”
You have a veteran group and you’re blending in youth. Is that the right way to establish a franchise for a long time?
“Well I think the big thing is the right way…you can preach it, you can coach it, you can demand it and a lot of coaches get fired because you don’t get it done, but having the player committed to that in the culture and the organization being committed and being around it is and I am not saying the last 5 or 6 years it’s been in a negative place. I just don’t think we are in as good of a place that we are now.”
How important is it to retain Arron Afflalo?
“How important? My heart is to have Arron Afflalo on my team. I was amazed over the last 2 years to see how much Arron Afflalo has meant to this team, how he’s grown, and he’s becoming of a leader of this team. As much as I think Nene is our most talented and skilled player/big man and just the skills he can bring on an NBA court – Arron has become somewhat of a leader on the court. People forget we missed Arron last year in the last 14 games or 12 games with his hamstring and never really getting to be healthy in the playoffs. I think it’s important. I definitely think it’s important. If you bring him into our mesh you kind of slot everybody else into this team and I think you feel comfortable to the challenge of being a very competitive NBA basketball team.”