Legendary NBA Coach George Karl Thinks Nikola Jokíc Is a Better Passer Than Larry Bird

George Karl

Getty Image / Kevork Djansezian

George Karl is one of the best coaches in NBA history to never win an NBA title. And, he’s one of the most respected coach of his era, too.

The 72-year-old last coached with the Sacramento Kings in 2015-2016. He spent 27 years as a head coach and went an impressive 1175-824. He only missed the playoffs five times in those 27 seasons, too.

But, George Karl could never win a title. He took the 1995-1996 Seattle Supersonics to the NBA finals, only to lose to Michael Jordan’s 72-win Chicago Bulls. He reached the conference finals in the 2000s with the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, but couldn’t get back to the NBA Finals.

Still, he’s widely respected as a brilliant mind, and he’s seen pretty much all the league’s greats come through. So, it came as a shock to many when, after the Boston Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in game 7 of the NBA Finals on Monday, he tweeted out that their fans needed to pay attention to the finals and watch how Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić is a better passer than Larry Bird.

Now, if you go by the raw stats, the Joker is definitely better. Jokic’s career assist average is 6.8, and Larry Bird’s is 6.3. And, Bird’s best passing season was just 7.6 assists per game. Jokic has been over that mark the last three seasons, including an impressive 9.8 this past season.

But, Bird could flat-out pass.

That being said, so can Jokíc.

Regardless of how you feel on the issue, George Karl has surely created a big debate before the NBA Finals start on Thursday.