Michael Jordan using dinner snub as fuel in 1996 Finals is false, George Karl argues
One point made during last week’s installation of The Last Dance — the 10-part docu-series examining Michael Jordan’s NBA career and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat journey — was the perceived slights that motivated the Hall of Fame shooting guard to a higher level of play.
However, former Seattle SuperSonics head coach George Karl, who last coached the Sacramento Kings before being fired in April 2016, refutes Jordan’s motivation scheme. He went on to call the Bulls a much better team when they beat the Sonics in the 1996 NBA Finals.
“I told my team to avoid Michael during the 96 Finals,” Karl wrote on his official Twitter page. “We reasoned he would find a way to exploit communication as motivation. I ignored Michael at dinner to honor the directive.
“The Last Dance makes it seem like Michael used that fuel him,” the one-time Coach of the Year winner continued, referring to Jordan’s controversial claim. “That’s false. The [Bulls’] D killed us!”
George Karl succeeded Boston Celtics legend K.C. Jones as the man in charge of the Sonics squad in January 1992, spending six-plus seasons in Seattle and earning a very impressive 384-150 (.719) record with the now-defunct squad.
The Sonics, under Karl’s watch, won more than 60 games in three different seasons. In fact, Karl was named coach of the Western Conference All-Stars three times with Seattle.
Ultimately, Defensive Player of the Year point guard Gary Payton and the Sonics could not contain Michael Jordan in his first Finals back from his initial retirement, kicking off the second three-peat in Chicago’s history.