George Karl: I Don’t Need a Closer to Win a Championship in Denver

March 7, 2012 – 9:45 am by Eric Schmoldt

Is George Karl stealing a page from across the city of Denver? I can’t tell for sure if he was trying to make a reference to Tim Tebow or not, but his analogy sure sounds interesting. When questioned about winning with the lack of a superstar, Karl said, ” if you can’t have a great quarterback, why not try something else?”

Whatever the reference, Karl’s Nuggets have won four straight games heading into a tussle with Cleveland tonight. They’re in the seven hole right now if the playoffs were to end today and they’ve got Nene and Danilo Gallinari coming back from injury. Karl says the team can win a championship, even if it doesn’t have a closer or superstar.

George Karl joined 104.3 The Fan in Denver with Scott Hastings to discuss a nine-game homestand, big-time players coming back from injury, rookie Kenneth Faried coming up big, having the last few games to point to when people argue that Denver has no superstar and how the style of play he likes to run can breed a champion.

On having nine straight home games and without having to play any of them on consecutive nights:

“This team likes to practice and when it does practice it practices at a really good level. We just haven’t had enough time to be in the gym. Even the days, with the injuries we’ve had, when you have four or five guys that are injured, you can’t really have any five-on-five practice. We’ll be able to put 45 minutes to an hour of work in on these days off, sometimes maybe working hard, sometimes maybe having more of a walk-through, talk-through mentality. With the young players and newness with guys with each other, I think it’s going to be really good for us.”

How do you approach it when players come back from an injury, in terms of getting them a certain amount of minutes and making sure they mesh well with what’s going on?:

“I think the big thing with  Nene and [Danilo Gallinari] is they’ve been out a while. Sometimes you miss four or five days or even 10 days, but they’ve missed a long time. I think we’ve got to make sure we get them comfortable in their confidence and in their energy to participate at a big-time level. And then as soon as they are, we’ll get them into the starting-minute kind of rotation.”

On rookie Kenneth Faried coming up big in the victory over Sacramento:

“I think Sacramento made it very clear that they were going to go after him a little bit. … They went after Kenneth on pick-and-rolls and also isolation. … I thought he did fine. The problem is, that used to be Kenyon Martin, so that’s a difficult matchup. Kenyon was so good there. In the same sense, I’ve been really impressed by his ability to do things at the end of games which I don’t think rookies do very often. What Kenneth does is he gets you extra possessions, gets you hustle points and he has a little bit of a knack of being where the ball is and being in the moment. … I don’t think we win that [Sacramento] game without him.”

Have these last couple games been nice to point to to people who keep arguing this team doesn’t have a star or a closer?:

“I think Gallo and Nene will also be a little bit on that list [of guys stepping up late] as well. How many closers are there in the league? Five? Seven? Eight? I mean, it’s just, you’ve got to understand that you can’t play like all these other guys that have stars. And my thing is, why do you want to play their game when they’re more talented, bigger, stronger and more experienced than you are? Why don’t we play a game that, right now, it wins in college and it wins in Europe? Everybody says it’s only won in Detroit … and it’s only won maybe four or five championships. But if you can’t have a great quarterback, why not try something else? I think we have a talented basketball team, that if we can figure out how to be the best team, we will beat many, many people. And I think we can win a championship.”

You guys are more than just a “running team” right?:

“We’ve got to be balanced. With the altitude and just the way I like to coach, the way I like to play is to play fast. I play North Carolina basketball. … But the whole thing comes down to, I just think the team is going to win a championship in Denver. If we get lucky and somebody turns into a superstar, fantastic. We’ll be able to coach that guy. What I don’t like is people who like to say I don’t like to coach superstars. I like to coach superstars that win in the playoffs. I will coach anybody who gives me a chance of winning in the playoffs.”

Listen to George Karl on 104.3 The Fan in Denver here

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