Thunder: George Karl’s Oklahoma City odyssey
I wrote a column about Nuggets coach George Karl in Wednesday’s paper. He’s had quite the career. And that career involved Oklahoma City from the old CBA days, as I mentioned.
Wednesday afternoon, I heard from Chip Land, the managing partner of the old Oklahoma City Cavalry, and Land shared a hilarious story from the CBA days. I ran the gist of it by Karl, and he confirmed. So I thought I would share it with you, in Land’s words, reciting the story he got from Karl.
“The Cavs’ first season, ’90-’91, and George Karl was obviously the coach of the best team in the league, with guys like Mario Elie & Vince Askew, but was still nth-degree driven (he had been in THE league, wanted back in THE league and had not much compassion for anyone/anything that might postpone his return).
“The game before the (Albany) Patroons came to OKC, George had been kicked out, in a legendary incident that made its way to Hollywood. He got so mad arguing a call that he approached the referee midcourt, snatched the ball from the ref and proceeded to PUNT it, all the way into the empty upper deck of the Albany arena. These days it would’ve been immortalized via YouTube, but back then it just became an instant buzz throughout the CBA.
“The legend had legs though, as much later, Will Ferrell did the exact same routine in the semi-laughable ‘Semi-Pro.’ I don’t know who the movie people might say ‘wrote’ that skit, but it had to be the enduring legend of George Karl in Albany.
“So, George came to OKC under a one-game suspension, ‘ball abuse,’ no doubt. He and I did acquaint and become fairly friendly during his stay here, largely because he was introducing me to his assistant and head-coach-in-the-making, Terry Stotts, as a possibility to come to OKC should (Cavalry coach) Charley Rosen ever ‘move on.’ “We had a few meals together, threatened some golf, and actually did discuss the possibility of HIM coming to OKC and just bringing Terry with him.
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