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George Karl names Carmelo Anthony, Gary Payton among his ‘top-5 starters’

George Karl, NBA, Carmelo Anthony, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp

Former NBA head coach George Karl revealed on Twitter the top-five starters he has ever coached. Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets) and Gary Payton (Sonics) cracked this list, as well as Shawn Kemp (Sonics), Chauncey Billups (Nuggets), and Ray Allen (Bucks).

Karl also gave an honorable mention to Joe Barry Carroll (Warriors) and World B. Free (Cavs). This is certainly an impressive list of former NBA players:

Karl notably had a rocky relationship with Anthony, a dynamic he detailed later in his “Furious George” book:

“Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him,” Karl wrote in his 2016 book, according to the New York Post. “He was the best offensive player I ever coached. He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it.

“He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense. He had no commitment to the hard, dirty work of stopping the other guy.”

Karl infamously demanded a then-young Melo to be more aggressive in the paint, claiming he would give him 10 perimeter shots for every 10 attempts he got near the basket.

The longtime NBA coach had Anthony from January 2005 to February 2011, when Anthony’s trade demand was fulfilled, allowing him to join the New York Knicks. Karl said the trade was “a sweet release for the coach and the team, like popping a blister.”

As for Payton, he was also a high-octane personality, but one in tune with the often intense coach. Payton, however, disapproved of how Karl spoke about Anthony’s lack of a father figure.

Even-keeled stars Allen and Billups aren’t surprises on this list, but Kemp could be viewed as a surprise given his clashes with Karl. The former coach pushed for the Sonics to trade Kemp to the Chicago Bulls for Scottie Pippen in 1994, but the deal fell through.