George Karl must have thought they were kidding when he was called into Denver Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke's office a few days ago. He must have imagined a routine meeting to discuss possible off season moves. Maybe a little small talk about the great beaches abroad he would soon be visiting. Instead, the long time coach was fired by the very young billionaire with his father's money.
The question today is not whether George Karl got a raw deal in being fired by the Denver Nuggets. The question is how did a coach with 26 years of experience as one of the winning-est coaches in NBA history make it this far? That's right, George Karl should never have had a job in the NBA for so long to start with. True, he is a coach with a solid resume of wins, but he never really ended up winning anything important in all those years.
Karl is a coach who made one of the best one-two combinations of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, two guys who will never win the NBA's "Man of the Year" award, into a laughingstock in terms of ever winning any big games. Remember, Karl and these talented clowns in Seattle were regularly in the mix out West and still never managed to even make it to the NBA Finals.
While in Denver, "Coach of the Year" Karl was regarded as some sort of savior for Carmelo Anthony and his poke and dribble, spot up shoot style. However, this team had one meaningful playoff run over this period in the mid to late 2000's and that came with Karl himself out of sorts with cancer of the throat. So the real question is, why did the Nuggets stick with him so long in the first place?
A little context here: The Denver Nuggets are owned by Josh Kroenke, an heir to the Walmart fortune through his mother. With this in mind, one cannot be lead to believe that money had anything to do with the move. So what was it? Why did a coach with Karl's pedigree and experience ever wind up at the unemployment line?
Was it the North Carolina Tarheel mystique that he brought from his playing days? Was it all those connections built up over years toiling in the minor leagues of basketball, or was it the fact that he is a very nice guy who is extensively quotable and very to the point? I suppose if you spend enough time around the game, you do tend to make a lot of friends and people want to see you succeed.
We all did. Unfortunately, Karl never did.
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