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George Karl discovers that even doing nothing can motivate Michael Jordan

The former Sonics coach confirms that he did not speak to Jordan at a restaurant during the 1996 NBA Finals.

George Karl hoped to avoid giving Michael Jordan motivation. He failed.
George Karl hoped to avoid giving Michael Jordan motivation. He failed.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

George Karl said he was trying to avoid becoming involved in one of Michael Jordan’s head games.

It backfired.

In 1996 during the NBA Finals, Sonics coach Karl saw Jordan dining in a restaurant in Chicago and didn’t stop to say hello. Jordan was angered by the snub from a fellow Tar Heel.

“It is true,” Karl told Scott Van Pelt on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “I had Brendan Malone on my staff from the Detroit Pistons, and he said Michael plays head games with you all the time, and he said you don’t want to mess with him in the series.”

“That was his M.O. most of his career,” Karl said. “He was making up stuff (to motivate himself).