ESPN was burned by a fake trade rumor concocted by Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl that he said he made up just for laughs.
Karl, 61, was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for a story that touched upon the looming NBA trade deadline and how antsy players can get when their names show up in trade rumors.
The Nuggets coach admitted that he helped fuel some of those anxieties, telling the newspaper he had a contest among his coaching friends to see who can get the most ridiculous, fake trade rumor into a news story.
"We make up some trade that never was proposed in 100 years and suddenly it's on ESPN," Karl said with a grin.
The exact fake rumor was not explained in the Plain Dealer’s story, but it’s assumed that the ESPN article said the information came from an anonymous source.
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Karl said he quit spreading fake trade rumors about seven or eight years ago, which means it’s unlikely he has engaged in joke-trade speculation since he became head coach of the Nuggets in 2005.
Before Denver, Karl coached the Milwaukee Bucks from 1998-2003 and the then-Seattle SupersSonics from 1992-98. The SuperSonics have since moved to Oklahoma City and play as the Thunder.
Now that he’s not making up fake trade rumors, Karl said there’s little he can do to assuage his players’ anxieties about being dealt.
“There's this solid anxiety to this period of time for players," Karl told the Plain Dealer. "So, how I can calm that and make them feel like, 'Yeah, a trade could happen, but it's a small, small percentage.'"
But while Karl no longer concocts fake trade rumors, he acknowledged that his colleagues try to spread disinformation.
“We tell fibs and lies,” he said.