George Karl takes aim at J.R. Smith and accuses him of not remembering plays because he was high

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Former NBA coach and player George Karl has never been one to mince words or obscure his true feelings on matters, regardless of the flak he might catch for it. As recently as April of 2022, the 72-year-old was still posting tweets referencing his belief that Andre Iguodala served as Mark Jackson’s mole during the Denver Nuggets’ ill-fated, first-round series against Jackson’s Golden State Warriors in 2013.

Flash forward to now and Karl, who served as play-caller for six different NBA teams between 1984 and 2016, is taking aim at another player from his stint in Denver, namely, former Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, who spent six seasons with Karl in Denver from 2006 to 2011.

The back and forth between the two men was instigated by Smith. During an April 13 appearance on J.J. Redick’s podcast, The Old Man & the Three, the two-time NBA champion was outspoken with his criticism of Karl, saying the Hall of Famer “lives to take shots at people.” Smith even went so far as to call Karl’s X’s and O’s into question.

“Seriously, we didn’t have one out-of-bounds play my whole time playing for this man,” Smith told Redick. “If you go back to [Game 3 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers], we lose on three out-of-bounds plays. Trevor Ariza steals all of them and we lose.”

When the clip of Smith’s commentary resurfaced recently on Twitter, Karl was compelled to respond. And while he made a point to lob multiple compliments at the ex-Cavs guard, he took issue with his claims about those out-of-bounds plays.

Specifically, he suggested that Smith may have been under the influence of illicit substances when they had practiced them.

Regardless of the animosity that may have existed between the two men when they were both in Denver (which has seemingly persisted to the current day), Smith had some of his best years as a player during his time with Karl. In his 372 games with the Nuggets, he averaged 13.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per outing and connected on 38.2 percent of his three-point attempts.

His 768 triples made in a Nuggets uniform still rate as the third-most in the organization’s history.

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Ryan is based in Salt Lake City and has written about the NBA for outlets like Heavy Sports, FanSided and Bleacher Report. He has also covered film/TV and gaming for Screen Rant and The Inquisitr. He aspires to be the next Daryl Hall but is more of a John Oates type.