Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few days you’ve heard that former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl is releasing a tell-all book, Furious George, and has called out a few former Nuggets players including Kenyon Martin. In the book, coach Karl says:
There’s no defending that comment. Karl has other incendiary quotes about players being selfish and hard to work with but with this quote, Karl crosses the line. And not just a little bit. It’s unfathomable why Karl would feel the need to speculate about Kenyon’s upbringing.
Today, just 24 hours after Frank Isola’s piece in the New York Daily News revealed the quote from the book, Kenyon Martin has fired back. In an article that he penned in The Player’s Tribune, Kenyon shares a bit about his upbringing and defends his mother, who he rightfully feels George Karl undermined by making that comment.
In addition to defending his mom, Kenyon also explains that he is a tough and emotional player. In his book, coach Karl hints that Kenyon was a fake tough guy. Kenyon tells stories about growing up in the projects of Dallas and the physical, sometimes violent form of basketball that he learned at an early age and how that shaped him into an aggressive and emotional basketball player.
The story is really interesting. Kenyon was one of my favorite Nuggets players of the 2000’s. I never got the impression that Kenyon was a fake tough guy. He played hard almost every game. He had plenty of attitude issues and was almost certainly difficult to work with on occassion - something that he himself admits in the article - but I never thought he was soft or didn’t give full effort on the court.
Kenyon provides the other side of the story and I suspect other former Nuggets players will share their opinions on coach Karl as well. If anything, it provides a lot of interesting context to one of the most interesting eras of Nuggets basketball in Denver. Unfortunately, that context appears to mostly be very negative.