Ex-Sonics HC George Karl Says He Ignored Michael Jordan 'To Honor' Directive

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

8 Apr 2001:  Head Coach George Karl of the Milwaukee Bucks stands on the sidelines during the game against the Seattle SuperSonics at the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. The Sonics defeated the Bucks 101-88.  NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the only rights Allsport are offering to license in this Photograph are one-time, non-exclusive editorial rights. No advertising or commercial uses of any kind may be made of Allsport photos. User acknowledges that it is aware that Allsport is an editorial sports agency and that NO RELEASES OF ANY TYPE ARE OBTAINED from the subjects contained in the photographs.Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr  /Allsport
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Michael Jordan used a snub from George Karl as motivation during the 1996 NBA Finals, but the former Seattle SuperSonics head coach explained Tuesday it was part of a teamwide plan:

George Karl @CoachKarl22

I told my team to avoid Michael during the 96 Finals. We reasoned he would find a way to exploit communication as motivation. I ignored Michael at dinner to honor the directive. #TheLastDance makes it seem like Michael used that to fuel him- that’s false. The Bulls D killed us!

In the latest episode of The Last Dance, Jordan described Karl being in the same restaurant ahead of their playoff series but choosing not to say hello to the Chicago Bulls star.

"Oh, so that's how you're going to play it?" Jordan said, via Adam Caparell of Complex. "I said that's a crock of s--t. We went to Carolina. We know Dean Smith, you know. I've seen him in the summer. We played golf. You're going to do this? OK, fine. That's all I needed. It became personal for me."

The Bulls won the series in six games as Jordan won his fourth of six career titles.

Of course, the 1996 squad was one of the best teams of all time with a 72-10 regular-season record to go with a 15-3 mark in the postseason. An upset would have been a difficult task for the Sonics even if Karl had said hello to Jordan.