Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts fires back at George Karl after unprovoked criticism of Damian Lillard

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Brandon Dill/AP

Former NBA coach George Karl continued his blitz against those in the NBA on Wednesday during an interview with New York Magazine.

While promoting his new book, “Furious George,” in which he criticizes Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith for selfishness and claims the NBA has a steroid problem, Karl took an unprovoked shot at Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

In arguing that a new generation of players care more about “branding” than winning, Karl said he thinks Lillard is the reason the Blazers have fallen below-.500 this season after a playoff appearance last year.

When asked to explain why he thinks Lillard is the problem, Karl said, “Lillard is getting too much attention. Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?”

On Wednesday, Stotts was asked about Karl’s comments and laid into him for making unfounded criticisms of his best player.

“I owe a lot to George. I got my start in coaching with George. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. He’s a successful coach. That being said, if he wants to diminish his chances for the Hall of Fame, if he wants to undermine his chances of being a head coach again in this league, if he wants to settle old scores with GMs or players or whoever else, that’s his prerogative.

“But when it comes to my team and my players, he needs to stay in his own lane. He doesn’t know Damian Lillard, he doesn’t know how coachable he is, he doesn’t know what a great teammate he is, he doesn’t know how much Damian cares about winning, and how important he is to this franchise. And I thought his comments, however well-intended they may have been, which I don’t understand, I can’t tolerate.”

Karl’s media blitz for his new book has made headlines, and as Stotts suggests, has not sat well with many in the NBA world. While the promotion can’t hurt Karl’s book sales, it may hurt his chances of returning to the NBA in any position.

Watch Stotts’ response below:

Damn.#Blazers CoachTerry Stotts has no time for George Karl, re: @Dame_Lillard.
Love this. pic.twitter.com/03Tpew6WOb

#Blazers@Dame_Lillard
pic.twitter.com/03Tpew6WObDecember29, 2016