Kings coach George Karl made one of his more interesting comments after Monday’s preseason-opening victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“The spirit in the locker room when I got here last year was, ‘Wow,’ ” Karl said. “I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and ‘Wow,’ and that wow was not a good wow. It was ‘Wow.’ And now we’ve got a healthy NBA locker room. That’s the one thing I feel right now, and I think we’ve got a vastly improved basketball team.”
Karl’s comments contrast sharply with those who think the team’s chemistry could be an implosion waiting to happen.
When Karl took over last season, players still were angry about the firing of coach Michael Malone, they distrusted management, and the focus was more on individual play than team goals.
But after making peace with All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and a weeklong training camp in La Jolla, Karl isn’t concerned about naysayers who insist the team has volatile personalities. He remembers critics said the same thing when he coached the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks, and those teams were winners.
“Without a doubt,” guard Darren Collison said of Karl’s assessment. “You’ve got vets like CB (Caron Butler), (Rajon) Rondo, Kouf (Kosta Koufos), guys that have been on teams where it meant something to them. So they try to instill those same principles into the locker room. It’s been a difference.”