9 People who turned their backs on the Milwaukee Bucks

David Jones talks to Gary Payton
David Jones talks to Gary Payton / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages
8 of 9

2. George Karl

George Karl may seem out of place here. I understand why.

After all, he arrived to a Bucks team that had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive years and led them back there right off the bat. In fact, the Bucks made the postseason in each of Karl's first three seasons in Milwaukee.

Even better, they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in year three for Karl in the big chair. They were ultimately eliminated in seven games by the Philadelphia 76ers.

One game away from the NBA Finals. Literally that close. But the team won 52 games and appeared to be on the cusp of being one of the league's best up-and-coming teams.

The following season, the Bucks took a step back, posting a 41-41 record, giving them a ninth place finish in the Eastern Conference. 

All they needed to do was stay the course, right?

Welp, if only Karl had done that. Instead, he had superstar Glenn Robinson traded to the Atlanta Hawks, as he was at odds with him.

He later had Ray Allen traded at the deadline for Gary Payton, as Payton and Karl had success in Seattle. Ultimately, Payton bolted in free agency.

Karl broke up a team that was on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals just two years prior. To make matters worse, Karl traded away star players who were still fairly young, as Robinson was 29 when he was dealt while Allen was just 27 when he was moved.

Sam Cassell was also dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Talk about striking a match and lighting a team on fire!

As one would imagine, the Bucks fired Karl at the end of the 2002-03 season, after he'd made all of those moves and feuded with team president Wally Walker.