George Karl disrespects Warriors big man Festus Ezeli, Mark Jackson says

Doug Pensinger

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl said something about the Golden State Warriors' Festus Ezeli that might have been a complimentary expression but came out as shots fired.

Golden State began taking aim at their opponents through the media when Warriors coach Mark Jackson said the Nuggets were sending "hit men" at Stephen Curry and purposely targeting his ankles. George Karl is continuing the trend, and he's probably messing around when he says the series between his Denver Nuggets and the Warriors is "one of the softest playoff series."

Adding confusion to Karl's meeting with the media on Thursday were his words about Warriors big man Festus Ezeli.

In the interview posted as a video by CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball blog, Karl said -- tongue in cheek or not -- that he respects the Warriors' young players.

"I'll go to any arbiter right now and show the dirty shots," Karl said. "They're winning. I like some of their guys. They're really good at what they do. Bogut started it. The Green kid is really good at it, and Festus (Ezeli) is pretty good at it too."

But when prompted to speak on Ezeli "blossoming into his role," Karl's words got muddled.

"Yeah," Karl said, "really blossomed into the elbowing asshole guy."

Or was it "into the elbow and asshole guy?"

ESPN's Ric Bucher points out that Karl perhaps was fumbling around and failing to use the expression "assholes and elbows," meaning a havoc-filled, fast-paced work ethic. In that respect, it's perhaps a compliment to the rookie big man who played 14 minutes in Game 5, much of it in crunch time.

Nevertheless, Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn't take the skewed words as such, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

"That statement is disrespectful," said the Warriors coach. "I've got a lot of respect for George Karl, the job that he's done and who he is. But that statement is disrespectful. I wonder what he thinks of his players -- Kenyon Martin, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, (Kosta) Koufos. I wonder what he thinks of those guys."

Oddly enough, Martin is now with the New York Knicks and was most recently calling for his team to "wear black, funeral colors." Meanwhile, the Nuggets and especially Faried have been playing physical ball. Admittedly they've been knocking around Curry and his teammates, but they aren't admitting to doing anything dirty.

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