Former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl has received considerable backlash on social media this week for taking jabs at his former star player Carmelo Anthony, recently tweeting that the 10-time All-Star forward was a "ball hog and s---ty defender" during their six years together.
Whether or not his comments were initially said in jest, Karl defended his criticisms of Anthony during an appearance on the Tiki and Tierney show Wednesday.
"Melo was a great player for me. I can't deny that he turned the franchise in Denver around -- it was him more than anybody else," Karl said. "He's a powerful player. But he's an individualist, and he likes to score more than he likes to play defense. My criticism was just to poke the bear a little bit on something that happened eight years ago, and have fun with it.
"But unfortunately, Twitter gets angry and pissed. I don't think I do that very much. Don't get me wrong, my reaction was, those sleepless nights were about the coaches -- trying to figure out how to motivate Melo, how to motivate Melo to understand that he's good enough to win championships. And in a lot of ways, we failed... Maybe I'm wrong for stirring the pot, but in the same sense, I'm telling you how I felt..."
Anthony, who was selected third overall by the Nuggets in the 2003 draft, averaged 24.8 points with 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists across eight seasons with the franchise. During his tenure in Denver, the Nuggets reached the playoffs all nine years, but they failed to advance past the opening round eight times. Denver's most successful season came in 2009, when they earned a trip to the Western Conference finals.
This isn't the first time Karl -- the NBA's sixth-winningest coach -- has publicly thrown shade at Anthony. In his 2017 memoir, "Furious George," Karl ripped the now 37-year-old veteran while recounting their relationship on the court.
"Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him. He was the best offensive player I ever coached," Karl wrote. "He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it."
Last week, Anthony agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, and told reporters during his introductory press conference this Monday that the thought of chasing a championship "keeps me up at night." Last season, Anthony averaged a career-low 13.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 69 games for the Portland Trail Blazers.
"For whatever reason, Melo and my disagreements have been kind of a hot spot that stimulates Twitter. I have no idea why," Karl said. "There's so many great things in our lives, and I don't want to ever go down a negative road in a negative way and maybe I did that this time. I'll agree to that."
The entire conversation between Karl and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.