The Reformation of an Angry Nugget

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
4:43
PM ET

The Denver Post's Chris Dempsey describes a period after last season when George Karl and his assistant Tim Grgurich decided to drop their running and gunning ways while getting back to the defense-first approach that had once been a hallmark of Karl teams.

They also decided to be much more involved with players during the off-season, as they had once done. Dempsey says the coaches divided up the roster, and kept in closer touch with everyone. George Karl got Nene (he says they cleared the air in a dinner where "not all nice things" were said) and Kenyon Martin.

Karl, who had past run-ins with Martin, thought he'd be the toughest to get on board with the changing philosophy he wanted to implement -- more discipline, improved professionalism, better leadership, and a focus on defense on the court.

He was wrong.

"The guy that jumped in really quick, was Kenyon," Karl said. "We thought Nene and Kenyon were the hardest guys. Kenyon basically said this is the only way we can survive. And as soon as he got back (for training camp) we met and he said 'You're not going to have any problem with me. I'm going to be your leader.' He jumped in and basically called himself out.

"We had our first (team) meeting of the season and he said 'I've been a problem for coach, but it's not going to happen anymore, and I'm going to be the policeman.' Our off the court activity was part of it, too."

Martin admitted he had a bad attitude much of his time with Karl, and that a lot of it was due to frustration with having to deal with two microfracture knee surgeries that limited his ability to play at the level he was accustomed. His knees hurt. His pride hurt. He took it out on Karl and others in the organization on a near daily basis.

Martin knew he had to change.

"I had to get out of my own way," he said.

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