DENVER (AP) – George Karl has never been shy about sharing his candid opinions and as a result, he has often found himself lighter in the wallet.

This time, he also got suspended without pay.

The league came down hard on Karl for publicly criticizing officials after the Nuggets’ 101-92 loss to New Jersey. Karl began his two-game suspension with Wednesday night’s Nuggets-Hornets game in Denver. He also will sit out Denver’s game at Phoenix on Friday night.

Karl got in trouble for suggesting that Vince Carter flopped twice during the game’s final minutes Monday night: “There’s a rumor out of the league office that we’re trying to take flopping out of the game, but I don’t think that was orchestrated very much in those two calls.”

Carter said he couldn’t recall the first foul but insisted the second one was legitimate. Kenyon Martin, who was whistled for the foul and was ejected after drawing two subsequent technicals.

Karl might wish he had the same type of restraint.

He wasn’t at the Pepsi Center and was unavailable for comment Wednesday night. But on Tuesday, he was unapologetic. While acknowledging after a review of the game tape that the Nuggets did indeed foul Carter on the two plays in question, he nevertheless suggested the officials were making up for 14 fouls they called on New Jersey in the third quarter.

General manager Kiki Vandeweghe said he spoke with Karl about keeping some of his feelings to himself.

“Well, I think if you’ve known George for as long as I have, you know he’s nothing if not honest about what his opinions are. But, you know, sometimes you do need to withhold your opinions a little bit. And we did discuss that,” Vandeweghe said. “Again, he is very remorseful and apologetic to the team, the fans and the NBA.”

How about to the officiating crew of Jess Kersey, Ron Olesiak and Tom Washington?

“You know, we really didn’t discuss that in particular,” Vandeweghe said. “But I think I’ll leave that one probably very, very much alone.”

While coaching Milwaukee in 1999, Karl was fined $25,000 by the league for disparaging remarks about the Seattle SuperSonics, who had fired him. Then, two years later, he was fined $50,000 by the NBA for his continued criticism of the SuperSonics and general manager Wally Walker.

Vandeweghe said he was surprised Karl didn’t just get another hefty fine this time.

“I have to admit, I was a little bit surprised on this one. I did read the quotes but again we’re going to abide by the rules,” Vandeweghe said. “Obviously, I talked to the NBA at length about it and talked to George. George was obviously apologetic and said he didn’t mean any harm by his comments but realizes that they were incorrect and wrong and understands but is very regretful and apologizes both to the team and to the NBA.”

Assistant Scott Brooks, who filled in for Karl, said he went to Karl’s home four hours before tip-off to go over the game plan but they didn’t discuss his suspension.

“I didn’t get into it,” Brooks said. “My mind was racing with excitement and nervousness and I basically just can’t worry about why and where and what and how and all that stuff. I needed some more information about what he’s feeling about the Hornets.”

Brooks did say, however, that Karl was disappointed.

“You don’t want to (miss) a game or two – or four,” said Brooks, who also served as coach during Karl’s two-game suspension to start the season. “He’s our leader of our team. He does not want to miss a game, but it happened.”

Karl’s first suspension was for making improper contact with a prospect in the offseason. The Nuggets at that time also were fined $200,000 by the NBA, which said the violation occurred from May 16-18 when Karl attended workouts at Marquette University involving a player not eligible for the draft.

The Nuggets lost both of those games with Brooks in charge. On Wednesday night, he was without star Carmelo Anthony, who sprained an ankle Monday night.

Karl was originally slapped with a three-game suspension to start the season and it was reduced to two games on appeal. Vandeweghe said he wasn’t going to appeal this one.

“I think this is one where you kind of take your medicine, you learn from it and you move on,” he said.

While several players said they were surprised by the suspension, they were reluctant to call it excessive.

Guard Andre Miller said it’s just the latest example of the NBA clamping down this season:

“I mean, you’ve got the dress code, you’ve got a lot of stuff, so they’re bringing it down on everybody, I guess.”

AP-ES-11-30-05 2137EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.