It was on the morning of February 27th that the notorious column ran in the Denver Post.
The headline: “George Karl has the cushiest job in the NBA”.
Mark Kiszla, the Post’s famous muckraker, in his first two sentences, called out Coach Karl for his lack activity. He teased, “Karl plops down on the bench shortly before tipoff and watches the game from the best seat in the house, doing so little for two hours he might as well order a pizza.”
The crux was that Karl is unencumbered by expectation.
It was an asinine assertion, of course. And, as Kiszla’s known to do, he resorted to logic and reason toward the end of his article. Controversy up top, rationality at the bottom line; it’s a time tested means of getting read. He’s pointed out time and again that the column wasn’t a call for Karl’s head.
But was it a wake up call for the Nuggets?
As his morning radio co-host Peter Burns pointed out on the Press Box today, the Nuggets have not been beaten since.
On the very day the piece ran the Nuggets traveled to Portland and gained a needed road victory – this after nearly every sports radio show in town dedicated significant time to dissing Kiszla’s take.
Days later they handled the Thunder. Then they blew out the Hawks, handled the Kings on the road and returned to Pepsi center to embarrass the Clippers. During a home tilt with the Timberwolves last Saturday Karl was as animated as Nuggets fans have ever seen him and on Monday Karl’s club collected yet another road win against the setting Suns.
Maybe, just maybe Mark Kiszla contributed to this seven game winning streak.
There’s nothing more potent in sports than the idea that “nobody believes in us”. Did a prickly columnist at the Denver Post feed George Karl’s resolve by questioning his work ethic?
Karl has been more active lately. He even gave Channel 4’s Vic Lombardi an all-access “day in the life” tour of his game preparation which aired in two parts, doubtlessly in response to the insistence that he’s merely coasting.
Kiszla got under his skin.
Chances are that Masia Ujiri is rethinking things. The Nuggets look like contenders all of a sudden. Not even the Thunder and the Clippers seem to scare them anymore. The team has a certain resolve.
George Karl would probably say that it all comes from the inside. It wouldn’t be hard to convince me, though, that certain external factors have played a role in the Nuggets most recent successes.
Did Kiszla’s column come at the most opportune time for the Denver Nuggets? Has it helped to fuel a late regular season run that could assure them the fourth seed (or better) in the West?
The Nuggets would never confess that, of course, but it’s not outrageous to wonder.