Shawn Kemp On George Karl’s Comments: ‘Family Comments Bothered Me’

By Jake Brown

Shawn Kemp was an essential piece to those 1990’s Seattle SuperSonics teams that saw a ton of success under head coach George Karl. The “Reign Man” joined me on The Jake Brown Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it to respond to the latest comments made by George Karl that are featured in his new book, “Furious George.”

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but I also think that you kinda gotta know the business so I think it’s unfortunate probably for George because George is such a good coach and a good guy and I respect him so much when he not only helped me as a basketball player, but he also helped me grow up as a young man and he challenged me at a time in my life when I really needed that challenge,” said Kemp on Thursday. “One of the best coaches I ever played for, I don’t have anything negative to say about him. I wish sometimes when these people come out with these books that they kept it more on the positive end, but the truth of it is that when you go through these situations you’re gonna have some negative feelings and coaches are gonna have some negative feelings. Most coaches are gonna tell you the truth so at the end of the day I respect George Karl for telling the truth and being honest with his feelings.”

George Karl…the nice guy?

“Absolutely he’s a nice guy because this is what it is and I’ll explain it to you, you have these certain types of coaches out there some coaches are going to shoot you crap and some coaches are going to try and make you better by just telling you,” Kemp said. “George is the type of coach where he’s gonna challenge you, he’s gonna find something to challenge you with. Whether it’s your play, whether it’s your attitude, whether it’s the way that you carry yourself there’s always gonna be something that he finds to challenge you because he wants to see what he can get out of you that’s what I respect with him the most because at first I didn’t quite understand George Karl, but I definitely learned to respect him and appreciate him because the way that you shut these coaches up when they challenge you is just play hard, play the game, do what you can and let bygones be bygones if you play your butt off normally coaches are gonna have good things to say about you and they’re gonna have nothing but a positive attitude with you, but you know you have these players sometimes where they’re very sensitive about comments. Myself I was always taught that if a coach gets on you, you have to take it, but do something about it show your actions through your play basically and the way that you show the coach up is play better, play harder and I think that’s what I learned to do in the NBA and I think a lot of us like Gary Payton and a lot of different guys before us did the same thing, but also you’re gonna have guys that are very sensitive that he mentioned in his book who don’t like that challenge. Not all guys can take that challenge to become better and I think at the end of the day what George was trying to do was challenge these young men to become better basketball players.”

Kemp did agree though that Karl’s comments on Carmelo Anthony not having a father figure took it a bit too far. Actually, it surprised him a lot.

“That’s just one thing you don’t do is mention another person’s family,” Kemp said. “You never talk about their past. When I heard those things it kind of bothered me a little bit because it was kind of just the opposite with myself and George it was more willing to be more of a father figure to me and Gary(Payton) talk to us, invite us to his house, spend time with us, show us what professionalism is all about. I think that’s more of what he was about to myself, he’s the type of guy that if you didn’t quite get it he would bring people around you and try to get the message to you. One year he brought Julius Erving just to hang around with us, to talk to us to kind of give us that mentorship a little bit so I think in a lot of ways he meant positive but it was just taking it the wrong way.”

Kemp also responded to the comments made by Karl on PED use in the NBA, which he did not agree with.

“I’m not sure what coach Karl was coming with that, but I can promise you this, you can look at these guys bodies in the NBA and can tell that they’re not very much on PED’s and things like that,” said Kemp. “If anything it would’ve been back in the 90’s when guys were a little bit bigger, but I really couldn’t imagine guys right now using PED’s because you don’t really see any bulky guys, there’s not really any big men left in the NBA definitely with size or with extra muscle or physique. So, I’m quite not sure where he was coming with that, maybe he saw something that I didn’t but I never saw any type of steroid use, PED use, or anything through my career.”

Jake Brown is the Digital Program Manager at CBS Sports Radio and a columnist for CBS Sports Radio, CBS Local Sports, and CBS Local. You can catch him on The Jake Brown Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it, iTunes, and Spotify. It’s a weekly sports show mixed in with a bit of entertainment and interviews as well every week. He occasionally hosts SportsTalk1240 on WGBB in Long Island, and formerly hosted Brown and Scoop, Brown and Troupe, and on ESPN Radio NH. Jake lives in Queens and being a Mets fan is finally paying off.

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