by Adam Figman | @afigman
Last year, when the Lakers faced off against the Thunder in the first round, Lakers coach Phil Jackson attempted to toy with the opponent, not-so subtly implying that OKC star Kevin Durant had been receiving special treatment from the refs. LA ended up wining the series, so it could be assumed that said tactics were successful. (Though most of us with working eyesight were capable of seeing that the Lakers’ win was the result of one basketball team being plenty better than the other, and not any off-the-court nonsense. But, you know.)
Now Nuggets head coach George Karl, currently prepping his team for battle against Oklahoma City, is using the same tactics Jackson used. He recently referred to the Thunder as “too cocky” after his team was beaten by Durant and friends, perhaps in an attempt to fire up his own guys, or to get under the enemy’s skin. No word yet on how the first of those two has worked out, but the second appears to have been a failure.
Via Yahoo! Sports:
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s practice ended Saturday with an entertaining, brick-filled 3-point competition between Kendrick Perkins and fellow center B.J. Mullens. Thunder coach Scottie Brooks was asked why he didn’t join in.
“I’m too cocky,” Brooks said.
He then drove home in his Prius.
Other than that quip, Brooks didn’t have much of a response to his former boss, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, calling him “pretty cocky” and accusing the Thunder of having an inflated opinion of themselves.
The Thunder play host to Karl and the Nuggets on Sunday for Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference series. The Thunder are 3-1 against Denver this season. Not surprisingly, they consider Karl’s comments gamesmanship.
“Denver can do the things that they do,” said Brooks, who coached under Karl in Denver from 2003-06. “That’s on them, that’s on George, that’s on their staff. I focus on our team, our guys and I believe in what we do.”
That’s not to say the Thunder didn’t notice Karl’s comments.
“That’s just crazy,” Perkins said. “Coach Brooks is one of the most humble guys I’ve been around, seriously. We can’t get caught up in that.”
“There is a fine line between confidence and cocky,” Durant said. “One thing we can’t be is cocky. We won a few games. We beat some good teams. But come playoffs, that’s out the door. You can’t expect for us to say, ‘Oh, we are going to win games.’
“People say we are going to win, but we have to come out there and really do it. We have that mindset. We’re not worried about what other people say. If we have that mindset, we’ll be straight.”
As far as we can tell, the only way to get anyone on Oklahoma City—OK, outside of Kendrick Perkins—too riled up is is to tell them they won’t be converting any dunks. Though getting the Thunder angry probably isn’t the best game plan, anyway; this squad is a hell of a lot better than the group that fell in the first round last season.