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Shaq: Karl Looks Like Woman Coach

May 6, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ Old grudges are heating up between Shaquille O’Neal and George Karl.

The Los Angeles Lakers center and the Seattle SuperSonics coach have a history going back to the 1994 All-Star game. Now, they’re involved in a Western Conference semifinal playoff series between two teams that think they’re good enough to win the NBA championship.

Game 2 will be tonight before the series moves to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4 Friday night and Sunday. If necessary, the teams return to Seattle for Game 5 next Tuesday.

``I don’t understand how a person cries before a series even started,″ O’Neal said after the Sonics’ 106-92 win in the opener Monday night, referring to comments by Karl that O’Neal was sometimes guilty of throwing elbows and traveling.

``He looks like a woman coach sometimes. I guess he’s just trying to get into certain people’s heads, but it won’t work with me,″ O’Neal said.

``He’s like a woman who coaches and cries all the time. He can’t get in my head. He’s a crybaby.″

Karl responded to O’Neal’s comments with humor at Tuesday’s practice.

``There’s some great women coaches in this game,″ he said. ``I’m thinking about wearing an apron tomorrow night.″

Gary Payton, Seattle’s All-Star point guard, would like to see that.

``As long as he comes to coach tomorrow, I ain’t going to worry about it,″ Payton said of Karl. ``As long as he’s able to coach, I’m all right with it.″

Payton, who led the Sonics with 25 points in the series opener, is a good friend of O’Neal, a former Olympic teammate. He also has a strong affection for Karl, so he’s not taking sides.

He doesn’t plan to say anything to Karl.

``That ain’t my job,″ he said. ``The Sonics don’t pay me to tell George to shut up. If George wants to talk, let him talk.″

During the 1994 All-Star game, when O’Neal was with Orlando, he got mad at Karl for double-teaming him aggressively. Karl was the West coach and O’Neal was playing for the East.

O’Neal said double-teams shouldn’t be used during All-Star games.

In Game 1 between the Pacific Division foes, the Sonics won despite a 27-point, 11-rebound by the 7-foot-1, 315-pound O’Neal. O’Neal is averaging 28.6 points, the best postseason average of his career.

``I think Shaq’s a great player,″ Karl said. ``I really think what (coach) Del Harris said is truthful. He’s probably the MVP of the league. He’s had an unbelievable year.

``We’ve got to worry about every moment of our life about how to beat him and how to stop him and how to create problems for him.″

During practice Tuesday, O’Neal didn’t want to talk about Karl.

``I ate too many Frosted Flakes,″ he said. ``I don’t remember what I said last night.″

Jerome Kersey of the Sonics, who spent last season with the Lakers, is amused at the O’Neal-Karl controversy. He said Karl is trying to work the referees psychologically.

``Everybody wants fouls in this league,″ he said. ``If you complain a little bit and get a few calls, it all works out.″

In Monday night’s game, the Sonics hit 15 of 16 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, while the Lakers were 2-for-4. The Lakers also had six of their 15 turnovers in the final period.

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